Conditional formatting is a powerful tool in spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel that can highlight cells, rows, or columns based on their value. When applied to PivotTables, conditional formatting can provide a visually appealing way to highlight important data or trends, making data analysis more intuitive and insightful.

What is Conditional Formatting?

Conditional formatting, as the name suggests, applies formats to cells based on certain conditions. These conditions could range from a simple value threshold (like highlighting sales over a certain amount) to more complex criteria based on formulas.

With PivotTables, you can use conditional formatting to automatically highlight cells based on their values. This can help you visually identify patterns or outliers in your data, which can be particularly useful when working with large data sets.

How to Apply Conditional Formatting to a PivotTable

To apply conditional formatting to a PivotTable, follow the steps below:

  1. Click on a cell in the PivotTable that contains the values you want to format. For example, if you want to apply formatting to the "Sales" data, click on one of the sales numbers in the PivotTable.

  2. Navigate to the "Home" tab in Excel and click on "Conditional Formatting" in the "Styles" group.

  3. You'll see a list of various formatting rules you can apply. For a simple demonstration, click on "Highlight Cell Rules" and then "Greater Than...".

  4. In the dialog box that appears, enter a value and select a formatting style. For instance, you might want to highlight all sales over $500 in red. Enter "500" in the box and select a red format, then click "OK".

Once you've done this, all sales values over $500 in your PivotTable will be highlighted in red. The beauty of applying conditional formatting to a PivotTable is that the formatting will adjust dynamically as you filter or change your data.

Advanced Conditional Formatting

For more advanced conditional formatting, you can use the "New Rule..." option in the "Conditional Formatting" menu. This allows you to create more complex rules based on formulas. For instance, you could create a rule that highlights the top 10% of sales values or sales values that are more than one standard deviation above the average.

These advanced rules can help you gain more insights from your data and highlight key trends or outliers that might not be immediately apparent.


Applying conditional formatting to PivotTables is a fantastic way to enhance your data analysis capabilities. It provides a visual representation of your data, making it easier to identify trends, patterns, and outliers. Whether you're using simple rules based on values or creating more complex rules with formulas, conditional formatting is an essential tool for making the most out of your PivotTables.

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