How to use Formulas in Conditional Formatting in Excel


The best part of conditional formatting is you can use formulas in it.

And, it has a very simple sense to work with formulas.

Your formula should be a logical formula and the result should be in TRUE or FALSE.

If formula returns TRUE, you’ll get the formatting and if FALSE then nothing.

The point is, by using formulas you can make best out of conditional formatting.

Yes, that’s right.

In the below example, we have used a formula in CF to check whether the value in the cell is smaller than 1000 or not.

use formulas in conditional formatting to check if value is greater

And if that value is smaller than 1000 it will apply the formatting which we have specified, otherwise not.

So today in this post, I’d like to share with you simple steps to apply conditional formatting using a formula.

And some of the useful examples which you can use in your daily work.

…so let’s get started.


Steps to Apply CF with Formulas

The steps to apply CF with formulas are quite simple:

  • Select the range to apply CF
  • Add a formula to text a condition
  • Specify a format to apply when the condition is met
how to apply conditional formatting using a formula
  • First of all, select the range where you want to apply conditional formatting.
to apply conditional formatting using formulas select range
  • After that, go to Home Tab ➜ Styles ➜ Conditional Formatting ➜ New Rule ➜ Use a formula to determine which cell to format.
to apply conditional formatting using formulas click on new rule
  • Now, in the “Format values where formula is true” enter below formula.


to apply conditional formatting using formulas enter formula
  • The next thing is to specify format to apply and for this, click on the format button and select the format.
to apply conditional formatting using formulas specify formatting
  • In the end, click OK.

PRO Tip: While entering a formula in CF dialog box you can’t see its result whether that formula is valid or not. So the best practice is to check that formula before using in CF by entering it in a cell.

Top 6 Example to use Formulas in Conditional Formatting

1. Use a Formula which is Based on Another Cell

Yes, you can apply conditional formatting based on another cell's value.

If you look at the below example, we have added a simple formula which is based on another cell.

And if the value of that linked cell meets the condition specified, you'll get conditional formatting.

apply conditional formatting with a formula using another cell

When achievement will be below 75%, it will highlight by the red color.

apply conditional formatting with a formula using another cell with percentage 75

2. Conditional Formatting using IF

Whenever I think about conditions, the first thing comes to your mind is using IF function.

And the best part of this functions is, it fits perfectly in conditional formatting. Let me show you an example:

using formulas to apply conditional formatting with if

Here, we have used the IF to create a condition and the condition is when the count of “Done” in range B3:B9 is equal to the count of tasks in the range A3:A9, then the final status will appear.

this formula in conditional formatting will format cell when all the tasks are done

2. Conditional Formatting by using Multiple Conditions

You can create multiple checks in condition to apply formatting.

Once all the conditions or one of the conditions will meet, conditional formatting will apply to the cell.

Look at the below example where we have used the average temperature of my town.

And we have used a simply combined IF-AND to highlight the months where the temperature is pretty pleasant.

Months where the temperature is within 15 Celsius to 35 Celsius, will get colored.

use if and formula in conditional formatting to highlight cell with temperatures

4. Highlight Alternate Rows with Conditional Formatting

To highlight every alternate row you can use following formula n CF.


By using this formula, every row whose number is odd will be highlighted. And, if you want to do vice versa you can use the following formula.

table with highlighted alternate rows using formula in conditional formatting

The same kind of formula you can use for columns (odd and even) as well.


And for even columns.

use conditional formatting highlight column alternate

5. Highlight Cells with Error using CF

highlight errors from cells using conditional formatting

6. Create a Checklist with Conditional Formatting

checklist using conditional formatting and checkbox
a dynamic checklist using formulas in conditional formatting

Points to Remember

  1. Your formula should be a logical formula, which leads to a result as TRUE or FALSE.
  2. Try not to overload your data with conditional formatting.
  3. Always use relative and absolute references in a proper sense.

Sample File


Conditional formatting is an awesome tool and by using a formula in it you can make best out of it.

I’m pretty sure that above-mentioned examples will inspire you to use it more frequently in your work.

Now, tell me one thing.

Have you ever used formula in CF?

Please share your views with me in the comment section. I'd love to hear from you, and please, don’t forget to share this post with your friends, I am sure they will appreciate it.

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About the Author

puneet one point one

Puneet is using Excel since his college days. He helped thousands of people to understand the power of the spreadsheets and learn Microsoft Excel. You can find him online, tweeting about Excel, on a running track, or sometimes hiking up a mountain.


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  1. I have scenario
    I need to use Cond formatting with formula like
    If I want to show some text in the formatted cell .
    cell A1 value starting with “2” like 2806 text need to show : “RJB” in Cell B1.
    if Cell A1 Value starting with “4” like 4739 text need to show : “HBB” in cell B1
    anyone have solution please send me a email on