Excel: Apply Conditional Formatting to Blank Cells


There are two ways to apply conditional formatting to blank cells in Excel:

1. Choose Format only cells that contain within the Conditional Formatting box.

2. Choose Use a formula to determine which cells to format within the Conditional Formatting box.

The following examples show how to use each method with the following dataset in Excel that shows the points scored by various basketball players during different games:

Example 1: Highlight Blank Cells Using “Format only cells that contain”

First, highlight the cells in the range A2:D11, then click the Conditional Formatting dropdown menu on the Home tab and then click New Rule:

In the new window that appears, click Format only cell that contain, then click the dropdown arrow under Format only cells with, then click Blanks.

Then click the Format button and choose a fill color.

Excel apply conditional formatting to blank cells

Once we press OK, all of the blank cells in the range A2:D11 will be highlighted:

Note: We chose to use a light green fill for the conditional formatting in this example, but you can choose any color and style you’d like for the conditional formatting.

Example 2: Highlight Blank Cells Using “Use a formula to determine which cells to format”

First, highlight the cells in the range A2:D11, then click the Conditional Formatting dropdown menu on the Home tab and then click New Rule:

In the new window that appears, click Use a formula to determine which cells to format, then type =ISBLANK(A2) in the box.

Then click the Format button and choose a fill color.

Excel apply conditional formatting to blank cells using ISBLANK function

Once we press OK, all of the blank cells in the range A2:D11 will be highlighted:

To ensure that the formula works correctly, be sure to use the cell in the top left corner of your range of cells in the ISBLANK() function.

In this example, we used cell A2 since it represented the cell in the top left corner of our range.

Additional Resources

The following tutorials explain how to perform other common tasks in Excel:

Excel: Apply Conditional Formatting to Overdue Dates
Excel: Apply Conditional Formatting if Cell is Between Two Dates
Excel: Apply Conditional Formatting Based on Multiple Conditions

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