How to Set Up Conditional Formatting in Excel 2016

By Greg Harvey

The Conditional Formatting button in the Styles group of the Home tab in Excel 2016 enables you to apply provisional formatting to a cell range based solely on the categories into which its current values fall. The cool thing about this kind of conditional formatting is that should you edit the numbers in the cell range so that their values fall into other categories, the program automatically changes their cell formatting to suit.

When you click the Conditional Formatting button in the Styles group of the Home tab, a drop-down menu appears with the following options:

  • Highlight Cells Rules opens a continuation menu with various options for defining formatting rules that highlight the cells in the cell selection that contain certain values, text, or dates; that have values greater or less than a particular value; or that fall within a certain ranges of values.

  • Top/Bottom Rules opens a continuation menu with various options for defining formatting rules that highlight the top and bottom values, percentages, and above and below average values in the cell selection.

  • Data Bars opens a palette with different color data bars that you can apply to the cell selection to indicate their values relative to each other by clicking the data bar thumbnail.

  • Color Scales opens a palette with different two- and three-colored scales that you can apply to the cell selection to indicate their values relative to each other by clicking the color scale thumbnail.

  • Icon Sets opens a palette with different sets of icons that you can apply to the cell selection to indicate their values relative to each other by clicking the icon set.

  • New Rule opens the New Formatting Rule dialog box where you define a custom conditional formatting rule to apply to the cell selection.

  • Clear Rules opens a continuation menu where you can remove conditional formatting rules for the cell selection by clicking the Clear Rules from Selected Cells option, for the entire worksheet by clicking the Clear Rules from Entire Sheet option, or for just the current data table by clicking the Clear Rules from This Table option.

  • Manage Rules opens the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box where you edit and delete particular rules as well as adjust their rule precedence by moving them up or down in the Rules list box.