For math-phobes like me, formatting spreadsheets isn’t generally as exciting as formatting text, but it is nonetheless extremely satisfying to have a spreadsheet look the way you want. As most people know, you can change font colors, and add borders and shading to Excel cells, much like you can in Word. In Excel, you choose Format|Cells and then select the various options in the tabs.
Recently, however I ran across a cool Excel formatting tip that isn’t much like Word at all. Suppose you have a spreadsheet that shows fluctuating data such as stock prices or temperatures. You happily enter the data day after day, but over time you realize that it would be nice to easily spot the entries with data that is outside of a certain range.
For example, suppose you want to know every time the temperature went above 90 degrees this summer. In your spreadsheet, you have the high and low temperatures listed for each day. To make those 90+ degree days stand out, select the high temperature column and choose Format|Conditional Formatting.
In the dialog box that appears you can set what conditions the formatting will occur. So in this case, Set the Condition 1 drop-down to "Cell Value" then change the drop-down to the right of that to "greater than or equal to." Now in the third box, type in 90.
Next you click the Format button to tell it what you want it to display when the cell value is greater than 90. You can change the settings in the Font, Border or Patterns. For example, you could bold the font and change it to red and change the cell background to yellow to indicate it was hot on those days. When you’re done, click OK and then OK again to exit the Conditional Formatting dialog box.
If you are really ambitious you can even set more than one condition. If you go back into the dialog box by choosing Format|Conditional Formatting again, you’ll see the Add button. If you click it, you can go through the same process again.