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How do you use if condition in Excel with color?


Using if conditions in Excel allows you to format cells based on certain criteria. This can be useful for highlighting specific values, creating visual indicators, and more. One common use case is to apply color formatting based on if conditions. This allows you to quickly visualize data that meets specified criteria in your spreadsheet.

In Excel, you can use if functions combined with conditional formatting rules to color cells based on if conditions. The steps are relatively simple, but do require some knowledge of Excel formulas and conditional formatting. In this article, we’ll walk through the process step-by-step.

Why Use If Conditions with Color in Excel?

Here are some common reasons you may want to use if conditions with color formatting in Excel:

– Highlight values above or below a threshold: Quickly identify values that are too high, too low, or just right based on color.

– Flag data based on logical tests: Visually flag data that meets a certain logical test, like values that are duplicates, text that contains certain words, etc.

– Visualize trends and patterns: Color code values to visualize increases, decreases, or trends in your data at a glance.

– Differentiate multiple types of data: Use color to distinguish and categorize different types of data, like categories, priorities, or statuses.

– Emphasize outliers: Call attention to atypical values that fall outside expected parameters.

– Improve readability and interpretation: Enhanced coloring can make it easier to read and interpret spreadsheet data.

If Function in Excel

The key to using if conditions with Excel formatting is the IF function. The IF function allows you to evaluate a logical test and return one value if the test is TRUE and another if the test evaluates to FALSE.

Here is the basic syntax for the IF function in Excel:

=IF(logical_test, value_if_true, value_if_false)

To break this down:

– Logical_test: The condition you want to evaluate. This can be a comparison (e.g. A1>100), checking for blank cells, evaluating text, etc.

– Value_if_true: What value you want returned if the logical test evaluates to TRUE.

– Value_if_false: What value you want returned if the logical test evaluates to FALSE.

You can nest IF functions to create more complex logical tests with multiple conditions.

Let’s look at a simple example:


This would check if the value in cell A1 is greater than 100. If true, it would return the text “High”. If false, it would return “Low”.

Using IF with Conditional Formatting

To apply coloring based on if conditions, you’ll combine the IF function with Excel’s conditional formatting feature.

Here are the general steps:

1. Write an IF function that evaluates your desired logical test and returns a clear value like “Yes” or “No” if true/false.

2. Select the cells you want to format.

3. Open the Conditional Formatting menu and create a new rule.

4. Setup the rule to format cells based on their values using the values returned by your IF function.

5. Select the color you want to apply.

Let’s look at a detailed example.

Suppose you have sales data with actual values in column A and quotas in column B. You want to highlight cells in column A red if the actual value falls below 80% of the quota amount.

Here are the steps to accomplish this with IF and conditional formatting:

1. In column C, create the formula to evaluate the logical test. It will check if the actual value is less than 80% of the quota:

=IF(A2 Actual (A) Quota (B) IF Test (C) 500 1000 No 250 400 Yes

2. Select the range A2:A with the actual values. Go to Conditional Formatting > New Rule.

3. Under “Format values where this formula is true” enter the formula:


4. Format the cells to fill red.

5. Click OK to apply the rule.

Now any cells where the actual value is below 80% of the quota will be colored red based on the IF condition.

Common IF Condition Examples

Here are some other common examples of if condition tests you can use with conditional formatting in Excel:

**Highlight values greater than a threshold**


Format red if “Yes”

**Flag duplicate values**


Format yellow if “Dupe”

**Check for blank cells**


Format grey if “Blank”

**Flag text containing certain words**


Format green if “Yes”

**Compare dates**

=IF(A2Using Multiple IF Conditions

You can also nest multiple IF statements together to create more advanced logical tests with multiple conditions.

For example:


This would evaluate the first condition, return value1 if true, then evaluate the second condition, and return value2 if that test is true. If neither is true, it would return value3.

You can continue nesting additional IF statements in this way to build very complex condition-based color rules.

Some examples with multiple conditions:

**3-Color Scale**

Green if >100

Yellow if 50-100

Red if =90th percentile

Yellow if 50th-90th percentile

Red if Tips for Using IF and Conditional Formatting

Here are some tips when using IF with conditional formatting in Excel:

– Use clear descriptive values for your TRUE/FALSE outputs from the IF statement. For example, “Yes/No”, “Over/Under”, “Pass/Fail”. This makes it very clear what the conditional format rule is checking.

– Ensure your IF statement is structured properly with the logical test first, then the value if true, and value if false. A small syntax error can cause problems.

– Triple check cell references in your formulas to ensure the IF statement is evaluating the proper range.

– Start simple and add complexity once the basic IF/formatting is working. Nested IFs can get tricky.

– Give your conditional formatting rules clear names so you can understand what each rule is doing.

– Consider using an outline format for very complex nested IF formulas to improve readability.

– Leverage Excel’s built-in formatting presets like Data Bars, Color Scales and Icon Sets when applicable.


Using IF functions with conditional formatting is a very powerful way to visualize data based on certain conditions within Excel. It allows you to highlight specific values, flag outliers, indicate trends, and make your spreadsheet data easier to interpret at a glance.

The general process is to first use IF statements to evaluate logical tests and return clear values if true/false. Then apply conditional formatting rules based on those returned values to color the cells appropriately.

You can create fairly simple color scales and thresholds or very advanced conditional color rules using multiple nested IF functions. The key is structuring your IF statements properly and referencing cells accurately.

With some practice and creativity, IF conditions with color coding can take your Excel spreadsheets to the next level in terms of visual presentation and actionable insights. The visualization power makes it much easier to analyze and understand your data.

Other Conditional Formatting Options

While this article focused specifically on using IF for conditional formatting, there are many other conditional formatting options in Excel:

– Data Bars – Apply gradient bars to visualize values

– Color Scales – Automatically color code cells via color gradients

– Icon Sets – Add icons like arrows, shapes, and symbols to cells

– Top/Bottom Rules – Highlight top or bottom ranked values

– Duplicate Values – Format duplicate or unique values

– Use a formula – Custom rules using Excel formulas

– Text or date criteria – Simple rules based on text, dates, blanks, etc.

Conditional formatting provides endless flexibility to visualize your data. The key is choosing the right type of conditional format for your specific needs. Formats based on IF give you the most control for advanced logic, but don’t overlook Excel’s built-in options as well.

With conditional formatting, you can transform boring spreadsheets into colorful, visual dashboards that allow you to instantly identify trends, outliers, and patterns in your data. This can help save time and provide valuable insights for better decision making.

Learn More

For more on conditional formatting best practices and innovative ways to use rules, check out these guides:

– [How to use conditional formatting in Excel]( – Step-by-step guide from Ablebits

– [Advanced Conditional Formatting Tricks]( – Cool examples and formulas from Excel Campus

– [Conditional Formatting in Excel 101]( – Samples from

– [50 Ways to use Conditional Formatting in Excel]( – Creative applications from Spreadsheetweb

Conditional formatting takes your Excel skills to the next level. By mastering IF and other conditional rules, you can visualize data in new ways, share key insights, and boost productivity.