Excel 2003 Format Based on Other Cell

Use conditional formatting to color all the cells in a row, based on the value in one cell in that row. For later versions of Excel, please see: Format Entire Row Based on One Cell

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Set Conditions - Formula


With Excel's conditional formatting, you can check the value in one cell, and format other cells, based on that value. For example, you could colour the entire row in a table, if the values in column B are over a set value.

Check Anothr Cell

In this example, we'll colour cells blue, if the number of units, in column B, is greater than 75. At a glance, we'll be able to see which dates have a high number of units.

Format a Row Based on Cell Value

You can watch the steps in this video, and the written instructions are below the video.

To apply conditional formatting to the cells:

  1. Select the cells that you want to format (A2:D4 in this example)
  2. In the menu bar, choose Format > Conditional Formatting...
  3. In the Conditional Formatting dialog box, from the first drop-down list, choose Formula Is
  4. In the text box, enter a formula that refers to the active cell in the selection. In this example, we selected A2:D4, and cell A2 is the active cell. So, in the formula, we'll refer to cell B2, because it's in the active row.


In this example, there is an absolute reference to column B ($B), to ensure that the conditional formatting in all columns refers to the value in column B.

If a relative reference (B) is used, the formula will be adjusted in each column, and won't work properly. Each cell will refer to the cell to its right, instead of refering to the cell in column B.

Set Conditions - Formula

  1. Click the Format button.
  2. In the Format Cells dialog box, select the formatting options that you want. In this example a medium blue fill colour was selected. You could also select a Font format, and a Border format.
  3. Click OK to close the Format Cells dialog box.
  4. If you want to add more conditions, click the Add button, and repeat steps 3-8, for that condition.
  5. Click OK, to close the Conditional Formatting dialog box.

Check Anothr Cell

Download the Sample File

Download a zipped sample file for this Excel tutorial

More Examples: For more Conditional Formatting rules and advanced examples that use a formula, go to the Conditional Formatting Examples page.

Related Tutorials

Conditional Formatting Introduction

Conditional Formatting Examples

Conditional Formatting Documentation

Conditional Formatting Data Bars





Last updated: December 29, 2023 10:10 AM