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A Quick Guide to Conditional Formatting in Excel

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A Quick Guide to Conditional Formatting in Excel


Let’s pretend you have a spreadsheet with 1,000 rows of data — it would be pretty difficult to spot patterns in the data with the naked eye. Enter conditional formatting.

This powerful tool highlights cells that meet a specific condition or “rule.” In other words, it brings your spreadsheet to life by adding color to patterns and trends.

Conditional Formatting highlighting who was absent in an attendance sheet.

Here, we’ll cover how to apply, edit, and copy and paste conditional formatting.

Conditional Formatting Based on Text

In this example, let’s use conditional formatting to an attendance list to highlight who was absent. The image below is the data set I’ll use to run through this explanation:

Screenshot 1-Mar-17-2022-04-58-33-30-PM

1. First, select the column or row you want to apply conditional formatting to. In this case, we’ll select column B.

Selecting Column B which contains the attendance status (Present or Absent)

2. To highlight who was absent, navigate to the header toolbar and select Conditional Formatting, as shown in the image below.

A screenshot of the Conditional Formatting tool in the header toolbar.

3. When the Conditional Formatting drop-down menu appears, select Highlight Cells Rules, then Equal To.

A screenshot of the Conditional Formatting drop-down. menu.

4. In the New Formatting dialog box, change Cell Value to Specific Text. Then, type “Absent” in the text box. Reference the image below:

The New Formatting Rule dialog box

5. From the New Formatting dialog box, we can also choose how we want to format the cells containing the word “Absent.” Check out the options below.

The "Format With" drop-down menu.

For this example, let’s stick with the default option (Light Red Fill with Dark Red Text).

6. Click OK. Now — thanks to conditional formatting — we can quickly identify which students were absent.

Conditional Formatting highlighting who was absent in an attendance sheet.

In the next section, we’ll cover how to apply conditional formatting based on another cell in the spreadsheet.

Conditional Formatting Based on Another Cell

In this example, the goal is to highlight the cells that match the drop-down menu in cell E1. The image below is the sample data set I’ll use for this explanation:

A spreadsheet that uses Conditional Formatting based on another cell.

1. First, select column B.

Selecting Column B to apply conditional formatting to.

2. Navigate to the header toolbar and select Conditional Formatting. When the Conditional Formatting drop-down menu appears, select Highlight Cells Rules, then Equal To.

A screenshot of the Conditional Formatting drop-down menu.

3. In the New Formatting dialog box, select Cell Value and Equal To.

In the text box, you can either click your mouse on cell E1 (the cell that contains the drop-down menu), or manually enter the formula =$E$1. See below.

The New Formatting Rule dialog box.

4. As you can see in the image above, we also changed the formatting to Yellow Fill with Dark Yellow Text. However, you can change this option to your preference. Click OK.

5. Now, the cells that match cell E1 are highlighted in yellow. Notice how the highlighted cells change depending on the status:

  • When the status is Present:

Conditional Formatting when the attendance status is set to "Present"

  • When the status is Absent:

Conditional Formatting when the attendance status is set to "Absent"

How to Edit Conditional Formatting

Here’s some good news — conditional formatting is not set in stone, meaning you can edit or delete it later. Here are the steps to do that:

1. Start by selecting the cell (or cell range) that contains a conditional formatting rule.

Selecting Column B which contains a Conditional Formatting rule.

2. Navigate to the header toolbar and select Conditional Formatting, then Manage Rules.

A screenshot of the "Manage Rules" option under the Conditional Formatting drop-down menu.

3. The Manage Rules dialog box will list the current rules for your selection. Select the rule you want to edit and click Edit Rule.

Screenshot of the Manage Rules dialog box.

How to Copy Conditional Formatting in Excel

You can easily copy a conditional formatting rule to another cell to (or range of cells) by using one of the following approaches.

1. Simple copy/paste.

The first approach is relatively straightforward. Start by selecting the cell you want to copy and hit the Copy button in the header toolbar — or click Control-C (or Command-C on a Mac).

Then, select the target cell and hit the Paste button in the header toolbar, or click Control-V (or Command-V on a Mac).

2. Format Painter

The second approach uses the tool Format Painter, which is located in the header toolbar. Check out the image below:

Screenshot of the Format Painter tool in the header toolbar.

To start, click on the cell you want to copy, then click Format Painter. Your mouse icon will change to a paintbrush. Then, drag the paintbrush to the cell (or range of cells) where you want to paste the format. Lastly, to stop using the paintbrush, press Esc on your keyboard.

Conditional formatting is a powerful way to visualize the data in your spreadsheet. With just a few clicks, you can emphasize important trends or patterns you may have otherwise missed. With the tips in this post, you’ll be able to use Conditional Formatting to its fullest extent.

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Salesforce winter 2023 release: The business executive’s guide

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Salesforce winter 2023 release: The business executive's guide

More than 150,000 companies are Salesforce customers. Salesforce’s share of the CRM market is about 25%. 

Few customers take advantage of the thrice-yearly release updates rolled out to every Salesforce user. I get it. Folks aren’t always paying attention to the releases because they’re focused on running their business, tending to the million things that come up each day. 

The full edition of this Winter’s ‘23 Release comes in at over 700 pages. The boiled-down, brass-tacks summary is still 32 pages.

Few business executives have the time and bandwidth to keep up with the ins and outs of these updates. Your admins and marketing operations people may slog through the whole doc but may not connect the dots between business initiatives and platform functionality. 

This series will connect those dots. I’ll summarize what you need to know about the latest release in five key categories: commerce, sales, service, marketing and loyalty programs.

I’ll cover the features that will help you make better decisions for your business and maximize how you use the platform. 

Based on features in this release, Salesforce is focused on:

  • Improving the base platform (adding ease that your hands-on admin and developer teams have requested for a long time).
  • Creating even more ways to connect with customers.
  • Offering more industry-tailored options that bring value to a business more quickly.

Robust support for subscription selling added to Commerce 

Adding a subscription pricing model benefits most businesses, whether you’re a fan belt manufacturer or an artisan dog food company.

Making it easier for your customer to buy your product is always a win-win, and this release makes implementing subscriptions more seamless from the backend with the Connect API tool. 

Connect API resources now support subscriptions and multiple product-selling models: 

  • One-time sales where products are sold for specific prices once. 
  • Term sales offer time-limited subscriptions. Products are sold and renewed for a specific amount of time, e.g. 12 months. 
  • Evergreen subscriptions offer products on a recurring basis until canceled.

Configuring charges for collecting local taxes in international jurisdictions was also enabled. 

Dig deeper: Salesforce unveils features to boost automation for marketing and sales


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Additions to sales enablement functionality

Overall, I’m loving the general focus on enablement through enhancements with dynamic forms, screen flows, and Slack integration. 

Teams can now build and launch enablement programs that drive to the most important KPIs for your business. You can now focus on specifics, like programs for a particular region or product, and offer incentives to drive business from them. 

And, dynamic form improvements mean end-users have more flexibility with fields and sections to display on page layouts. 

Sales teams can now better access, update, share records and get important notifications on their key accounts directly within Slack using a new integration. Sales can collaborate in account- and opportunity-focused Slack channels while accessing Salesforce data. 

And, you can make it easier for sales teams to work with colleagues throughout the enterprise in departments such as fulfillment, shipping, and finance. This is enabled using Slack and providing real-time access to data stored in Salesforce to everyone who needs it.

Next time, I’ll dive into the latest service, marketing, and loyalty programs features included in the Winter 2023 release.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.



About The Author

Joe Anzalone

Joe is Vice President, Salesforce Technology at Shift7 Digital. As a member of the Shift7 leadership team, Joe works to craft solutions and architectures that meet ambitious client goals using the power of the Salesforce platform, including product ownership for Shift7’s Industry GTM Accelerators. Joe brings more than 20 years of experience implementing Salesforce and other digital platforms including enterprise solutions and complex technology implementations. He sits on the Salesforce B2B Commerce product advisory board. Shift7 Digital is a Salesforce Ventures-backed agency, revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers, distributors, and their customers.

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