Video: Conditional formatting based on another cell

See how you can create custom rules to color your data by any conditions.

Conditional formatting based on another cell: video transcript

There is no doubt that conditional formatting is one of the most useful features in Excel. Standard rules let you quickly color the necessary values, but what if you want to format entire rows based on a value in a certain cell? Let me show you how you can use formulas to create any conditional formatting rule you like.

Apply conditional formatting if another cell is blank

Here is one common task: I want to highlight the rows with a blank ID. Let's begin with the steps for creating a custom rule:

  1. First of all, select the range that you want to highlight, this will save you some steps later. Make sure you start with the top-left record and omit the header row. Converting the range to a Table is a better option if you plan to apply the rule to new entries in the future.
  2. Click on Conditional formatting at the top and choose "New rule". You need the last item: "Use a formula to determine which cells to format".
  3. Now you can enter your custom condition and set the desired format.
    • A fill color offers the quickest way to see our data, so let's pick one and click ok.
    • The formula to find the rows with blanks in column A is =A2="". But that's not all. To make sure the rule is applied row by row, you need to make the reference to the column absolute, so enter a dollar sign before column A:


      If you wanted to always look at this particular cell, then you'd fix the row as well, making it look this way: $A$2=""

  4. Click Ok and here you go.

Highlight rows if another cell is blank

Excel conditional formatting based on another cell value

Now let's move on and see how we can find those book titles that have 10 or more in column E. I'll go ahead and select the book titles because this is what we want to format, and create a new Conditional Formatting rule that uses a formula. Our condition is going to be similar:


Pick the format and save the rule to see how it works.

As you can see, these are simple rules where you can enter any value that interests you. Where the value is, is not important. If it's in a different sheet, then simply make sure you include its name into your reference.

Conditional formatting formula for multiple conditions

Let's move on to the cases when your condition concerns two different values. For example, you may want to see the orders that have a high priority and over 8 in the quantity field.

To change an existing rule, pick Manage rules under Conditional formatting, find the rule and click Edit. To make sure several conditions are met, use function "AND", then list your criteria in brackets and remember to use quotes for text values:


If you want to make sure at least one condition is met, then use OR function instead. Replace the function, now it will read: highlight the row if the priority is high or if quantity is over 8.

Formatting based on another cell text

Here is another function you will appreciate if you work with text values. The task will seem tricky if you want to look at the cells that contain the key word along with anything else. If this is your case, you will need to use the Search function, and here is how it will look. Select the records to color, create a rule, and enter:


Note that If you enter more than 1, then you'll get the cells that start with this text instead.

Things to remember for your custom rules

You can use practically any formula as a condition for highlighting your data. In one of our previous videos, we covered how to identify duplicates with the help of Conditional Formatting, and you can find some more great formula examples in our blog post on this topic.

Before you go formatting your table, let me quickly go over some typical mistakes that may not let you get the results you expect.

First of all, remember about the difference between absolute and relative cell references. If you want to check each cell in a column, enter a dollar sign before the name of the column. To keep checking the same row, add the dollar sign before the row number. And to fix the cell reference, in other words, to keep checking the same cell, make sure you have a dollar sign before both: the column and the row.

Then, if you see that your rule is applied just to one row or cell, go back to Manage rules and make sure it applies to the correct range.

When you create a rule, always use the top-left cell of the range with your data for the formula and omit the header row to avoid shifting the results.

As long as you keep these points in mind, Conditional Formatting formulas will do wonders to your data. If you still have troubles getting it to work for you, please share your task in comments, we'll do our best to help you.


  1. Hello,

    I have a spreadsheet where Column A has Customer Numbers in. I have a Conditional Formatting rule for it to highlight any Duplicate Values.

    Now I need it to also look at Column G and if that cell contains "Collected" for it to ignore the conditional formatting for Duplicate Values in Column A.

    From the above video I have created a new rule with the formula =$G2="Collected" This has stopped the Cells in column A being coloured Red, however other lines with the same Customer Number but status different to "Collected" are still highlighted as a duplicate value when there is only 1 value (without the "Collected" status).

    I hope this makes sense. Thank you in advance.

    • Hi! I can't see your data and don't know what rule you use to select duplicate cells. Nor do I know in what order your conditional formatting rules are executed. Therefore, I cannot give you any advice.

  2. How can I apply conditional formatting to every cell after a blank cell? I have a column with data in it, and there are blank cells every now and then in the column. I just need to target every cell that comes after a blank cell in that column. Thanks for your help.

  3. Hello,
    Hoping you can help. I have already added conditional formatting to a column E when the date is less than Today's date for the cell to turn Green.
    I need the cell next to the green date (column D) to change green, for example if E7 is Green and I need D7 to be green?

    Also, I then need to do the following: B5 - D25 + (D7:24) If highlighted green ?

    Thank you!

    • Hi! You cannot define and use cell color with conditional formatting in Excel formulas. You can create the same conditional formatting rule for cell D7 as E7. You can use the same conditional formatting rule to create an IF formula to perform a calculation based on a condition.

  4. I have a doubt sir.
    How to use conditional formatting to exactly match a date which is present in one Column to another column and highlight those dates in Excel ?

  5. I need some help I want the highlight J2 if its BLANK and B2 is "Fail", When B2 is pass, or any other string J2 should not format. J2 should also not format if it is populated.

  6. Thanks for all your info from your site! I was wondering if it is possible to do conditional formatting on a cell in red based on another cell's content and if other cells on the sheet are blank.

    E.g. I have a drop down for cell J6 with options Completed, Declined, N/A and I would like if I choose any of those options AND cells, H5, H6, and H7 are also blank, then I want cells H5, H6, and H7 to be RED.

    Thanks for your help in advance!!!

  7. Hello, I have a table with columns A through AD, and rows 4 through 34 (and growing). How can I get cells in Column A to highlight if any other cell in the same row is blank?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi! If you can't exactly specify the range in which empty cells will be checked, then you can't use the conditional formatting formula.

  8. Hi! How do I use conditional formatting to set a value (x) in a intersecting cell based on a match between a column value and a row value?

    1 2 3 4 5
    2 x
    3 x
    4 x
    1 x


    • All good, I just figured it out. Thanks!

  9. Thank you so much for all of the helpful info! I had a question, I use excel to schedule people on certain dates. Is there a way to highlight a specific range of cells red by typing the date range in one cell? Say if column Y contains the date range and columns IO to JR contain the dates, could I highlight only specific cells in the date range that the people would be unavailable by typing said date range in column Y?

    • Hi! If you enter a date range in a single cell, it will be text, not dates. You will not be able to do any calculations with this text, including a conditional formatting formula.

  10. Hello, can you please help me with a specific situation?
    I want to highlight the row if column D has ANY date in it, do nothing if it has a text or if it's blank.

    Thank you in advance.

  11. Hi there,
    I really appreciate the work effort on this website!
    Unfortunately, I was not able to find a solution to my problem.
    I would like that cell A1 change font if the cell D10 contains the word "other" (the cell D10 contains a drop down).
    I have tried so many formulas but as I am newbie it is hard to understand where it went wrong.
    Thank you for your help!

  12. That was excellent.. but I would like to colour in the row if any of several cells are not empty. Please help

  13. Range A8 through D8, if greater than or equal to E8 turn red, if same range is less than E8 turn green, however column e8 remains blank a few weeks, in the meantime I dont want the cells to turn red which is what is happening currently, is there a way for range A8 through D8 to remain colorless until e8 is documented ?

  14. Hi, hoping you can help. I read all the other comments, but I don't see one like my request.

    If Cell C3 is NOT blank, I'd like to highlight ONLY the BLANK cells in the range E3 to V3. If C3 is blank, I don't want to highlight anything.

    When I say "blank", I mean anything in the cell. My cells in this worksheet are only going to have 3 possible entries in them: Either completely empty, or they will have a "-" in it (dash)....or they will have the Checkmark symbol.

    Then I need it to do the same thing for next row...but each row should have no bearing on the row before or after it.

    Also note, if I need to change the 3 different symbols I use, I can do that. Not sure if using a "symbol" or a dash makes things complicated. I'm flexible.

    Thanks ahead of time. I've searched everywhere and can't figure this out.

  15. Hi, Thank you for all useful information! I wonder how to set cells in col E with red font if the cell in the same row in col F is higher than E. Many thanks in advance!

  16. Thank you so much! This information was super helpful. Both the posted example and answers in the discussion below.

  17. I was wondering if there is conditional formatting to copy the color of the adjacent cell. To highlight cells based on adjacent cell color.

  18. I'm wondering if someone might be able to help. I'm wanting to set the fill of a cell to blue if it grabs the information from another cell, for example In Column A I have the date then in column E-G I have outgoings and in column K I have PayPal payments. I also put the date the Paypal payment was made on the date it was done in column K and then when the money finally leaves the bank account, I use =K to put it in cell in column E, F or G. Is there a way of making it so the cell that pulls from column K gets filled in a specific colour?

      • I tried as suggested however it didn't seem to work. It filled some cells but not the ones that should be filled with a specific fill colour. It only seemed to fill in a few empty cells. I've tried some of the suggestions on that page you linked but nothing seemed to work.

        • Hi!
          Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.

  19. Hello!
    I need to change the colour of D2 when C2 contains text.
    I have gotten as far as =ISBLANK($D2) but this performs the opposite function, highlighting the text in C2 instead of highlighting the adjacent blank cell in D2.

    Unfortunately =ISNOTBLANK($D2) doesn't work haha

    Thanks for your help!

  20. Hello,

    I would be grateful if you would assist with my question.

    Is it possible to format cells simply by reference to the active cell? For example, I would like my active cell and the four above to fill with colour. I’m trying to create a visual aid for users.

    Thank you for any help you can spare.

    • Hello!
      Excel conditional formatting cannot determine which cell is active. Conditional formatting works with cell values. You need to use a VBA macro.

  21. Hi,

    I need help too please.

    If A1 is not blank and any cell in the range A2:A11 is bank, then I want the blank cells to be highlighted.
    I can't figure this out.

    Thank you.

      • Thank you.

        Yes, it did work like a charm in excel. But I realized that my question was incomplete cause this file I'm working on is google sheet. And I did try this but it didn't work on google sheet. Is there any chance you'd have a solution for me?

        Thank you again.

        • Hello again,

          In fact, your solution does work in Google sheets as well, but only if there is no other conditional formatting on that cell. Any work around that? The existing format I have in this range is =(A2:A11<($A$1*$b$1) to change the font color.

          Thank you.

      • =($A$1"")*(A2:A11="") This worked for me, thank you. But can you explain why you use * and not AND formula?

  22. Hello Team Ablebits!

    I just wants cell A1 to be highlighted when cell B1 is blank. A1 should also be highlighted when B1 is not blank while A1 is still blank.

    Can anyone help, I know it's a conditional formatting but I don't know what the formula would be.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  23. Hi Team, Your Blog on MS Excel is very useful to understand the usage of functions better and helped me to improve my Excel Skills. Whenever need Solution on Excel related to issues First I will check in Ablebits blogs before looking for other options... Thanks a lot for Sharing your knowledge..

  24. Hi there,

    I'm trying to conditionally format so that if the text in column A says "Adkins", columns c, d, e, f, h, and I will highlight in that row.

    And then I want to apply a different rule to all the other cells according to the name they have in column a, and only highlight certain cells according to that name. Can you help me please??!??

    Also, I need all the rules to run in tandem as I add more lines to the sheet. Is this even possible??

    Thank you!

  25. I have a list of items in inventory, one column (B) has number value the next column (C) has the description (i.e. case or each).
    I want column C to go blank when the value of column B is zero.
    Can anyone help, i think it's a conditional formatting but i don't know what the formula would be.

  26. I want the cell in column B to highlight if there is no data in Column G or H and the text does not include “Mon”, “Wednesday” or “Friday” in column b.

    Is that possible?

  27. Life saver! Thank you so much.

  28. What if I want to highlight only 1 cell adjacent to a blank cell ?

  29. Hello, please can you help. I'd like the cell to be red if cells in col G are blank and cells in col E have an invoice number (the invoice number is different in each cell. I did use =AND($G4="",$E4="ARI00004") but can you let me know how to not use specific text please?

  30. Hi, i am looking for a solution i.e
    I have a work sheet. one of the cell have .33 +/-.010. Next to this cell when entered value should highlight as below
    If value is between 0.3200-0.3225 should be yellow color
    If Value is between 0.3375-0.3400 should be yellow color
    If Value is More than 0.3400 should be red color
    If Value is Less than 0.3225 should be red color
    If Value is between 0.3225 & 0.3375 should be Green color.
    Similarly i have multiple cells with values in the same sheet. i am looking for a solution with single formula to highlight similarly.

    Thanks in advance.

  31. How do I condition a specific cell to highlight red, in response to a random cell within a table on a different page highlighting red as well?
    Explanation: I have a table on a separate tab that has cells turning red when certain conditions are met. When these cells go red, I need a specific cell on the main tab to go red as well. When no cells are red, I don't want it highlighted red either.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Hello Spencer,
      I'm afraid there is no way to refer to a color as a conditional formatting criterion in Excel. The easiest way to go would be using the same condition as you have in your original rule and applying it to your cell in the main table.

  32. Hi Irina, first of all thanks for halpfull videos, and learniing notes.
    I have one question about conditional formatting, I'm interested in how can I find, for exampre 10 greater number from larg excell cell ?
    thank you !

    • Hello Giorgi,

      Thanks a lot for your kind feedback!

      Could you describe your task in more detail: are you trying to compare numbers to a certain cell and find those that are greater by 10 or more, or are you trying to highlight all cells that are greater than 10?

      I'll do my best to assist you.

      • Hello Irina,
        I've solved that task, I was interested about compare numbers to a certain cell and find those that are greater by 10 or more, I find it easily at "conditional formatting"
        lots of thanks for you!

        • Thank you very much for the update, Giorgi, great to hear that you found what you needed!

          Feel free to contact me if I can help in any way.

  33. Hi - this site has been SO helpful for me!

    Unfortunately, I can't seem to get this to work for my specific use case.

    I'm trying to format cells in column R based on results in Column Z, where Column Z contains a vlookup.

    When I try the simple formula in Cond. Formatting "$Z9>0" it is returning ALL columns, even those that show as nothing in column Z.

    The Vlookup formula in Z is "IFERROR(VLOOKUP(E9, KAM_SFG, 14, FALSE)"

    Nothing I do seems to make this work. :(

    • Hi, happy to hear you find our site helpful!

      It looks like you can slightly modify the conditional formatting formula to make it ignore blanks, try this way:

      Hope it helps!

  34. Wonderful site, I'm so glad I found it. I print a morning sheet that I want to highlight select rows which already have a value entered. So I need to do conditional formatting with each row. Is there any fast way to copy paste conditional formatting to Rowe's like you can with common formulas ?

    • Hello John,
      Thank you for your feedback.
      You can apply the rule to all your rows and add an absolute reference to the column with values you want to check. For example, you can select the range with all your data and create a rule with a custom formula
      It will highlight the rows that have a value in column K. If your task is different, please describe it in more detail.

  35. Hey, Irina, Thank you very much for all these awesome blogs. I have learnt many tips & tricks from here everyday. Thanks a lot for you & your teammates.

  36. HI thank you for the great post. I am wondering to know that how keep rows highlighted for certain period? For example: Payment due date is on 30the, of each month and want the rows remain highlighted from 25 to 30 of the month.
    Thank you,

    • Hello Ali,

      Thank you very much for your feedback. If we understand your task correctly and you have a column with dates, then you can select the rows you want to highlight and create a rule with the following formula:

      Here column C is the one that contains the dates.

      • Hi Irina,

        Thank for the support! This formula highlights days greater than 24 but includes past dates as well. I want this to work for current month only. I applied this formula "=AND(MONTH(Q9)=TODAY(),DAY(Q9)>24)" but it doesn't works. Can you suggest any revision?

        Thank you,

        • Hi Irina,

          Thank you, I have figure it out. Here is the formula if anyone need.


          Thank you,

          Ali Khan

  37. Really very good job guys for post those valuable trick.

  38. Very good posts, You guys are helping almost every Managers from different orgs,..

  39. Hey, Irina. Its my pleasure for i have found this awesome blog site. I have learnt many tips & trick from here everyday. Thanks a lot for you & your teammates.

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