Creating a Conditional Format

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 3, 2013)

Sheets includes a great way to dynamically format cells in a spreadsheet based on values within the spreadsheet. If the values change, then the formatting based on those values is automatically changed. This feature is known as conditional formatting.

To start applying this type of formatting, first select the cells to which you want it applied. Then click Format | Conditional Formatting to see the Conditional Formatting dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.

Note that left side of the dialog box contains a drop-down list that allows you to specify the type of condition you are creating. The default is "Text Contains," but clicking the drop-down list shows that there are many other types of condtions you can examine:

  • Text Contains. Checks to see if the text value in the cell contains whatever characters you specify.
  • Text Does Not Contain. Checks to see if the text value in the cell does not include the characters you specify.
  • Text is Exactly. Checks to see if the text value in the cell contains only the characters you specify.
  • Cell is Empty. Checks to see if the cell contains nothing.
  • Date is. If the cell contains a date, checks to see if it matches a date you specify.
  • Date is Before. If the cell contains a date, checks to see if that date is prior to a date you specify.
  • Date is After. If the cell contains a date, checks to see if that date is after a date you specify.
  • Greater Than. For numeric values, checks to see if the cell value is greater than a value you specify.
  • Less Than. For numeric values, checks to see if the cell value is less than a value you specify.
  • Is Equal To. For numeric values, checks to see if the cell value is equal to a value you specify.
  • Is Not Equal To. For numeric values, checks to see if the cell value does not equal whatever value you specify.
  • Is Between. For numeric values, checks to see if the cell value is between two values you specify. (The condition is also true if the cell value is equal to either of the two values.)
  • Is Not Between. For numeric values, checks to see if the cell value is not between two values you specify.

Once you select the type of condition you want to check, Google modifies the dialog box to reflect the requirements of that condition. You can then fill in the values that make sense for the condition.

Finally, you need to specify how you want Sheets to modify the formatting of the selected cells based on the outcome of the condition you create. You can click the check box next to Text or Background, or both. Selecting a check box allows you to modify that formatting element, as desired.

Once you click Save Rules in the Conditional Formatting dialog box the formats are applied to the selected cells.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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