Conditional Formatting in Excel - Averages

Have a look again at the student scores spreadsheet from an earlier tutorial:

An Excel spreadsheet showing student averages

If you haven't got this spreadsheet, download it using the link below (right click the link and select Save As/Save Target As:

Student Averages Spreadsheet

When you open up the spreadsheet above in Excel, click File > Save As and save it with a different file name, as you'll be needing another copy later.

What we're going to do is some conditional formatting based on Average scores. We'll have one colour for those scores that are above average and another colour for those that are below average.

When you're done, the spreadsheet will look something like this:

The student averages spreadsheet with Conditional Formatting applied

With the Conditional Formatting applied, you can easily see that Mary achieved above average scores in all subjects (red). You can also see that poor Mark, meanwhile, has lower than average scores in all subjects (green). This information is not readily apparent without the Conditional Formatting. So how is it done?

Start by selecting the scores from cells B2 to I9:

With the scores selected, locate the Styles panel on the Home ribbon at the top of Excel. From the Styles panel, click on Conditional Formatting, then select Top/Bottom Rules > Above Average:

The Conditional Formatting menu

You should then see the following dialogue box appear:

Format cells dialogue box

The default colour for the cells is Light Red Fill with Dark Red Text. If you want another colour, click the arrow on the dropdown box to see more options:

Cell fill options

If you're still not happy with the colour range, select the Custom Format option at the bottom. You can then set up a custom colour like you did in a previous lesson.

When you click OK on the dialogue box, your spreadsheet should look like this:

Red colour selected for the formatting

With the scores still selected, go to Home > Styles > Conditional Formatting again. This time from the menu, select Top/Bottom Rules > Below Average:

Conditional formatting menu - Below Average

When you get the dialogue box up, select a different colour for the Below Average scores:

Format cells dialogue box - below average

For the Below Average scores, we've gone for a Green Fill with Dark Green Text.

Click OK to apply the formatting. Your spreadsheet will then look like ours:

The student averages spreadsheet with Conditional Formatting applied



Open up a new copy of the Student Scores spreadsheet, or just Undo the formatting you already have by clicking the Conditional Formatting item on the Styles panel. From the menu this time, select Clear Rules, and then clicking on one of the options:

Conditional formatting menu - clear rules

Now set up a new Top/Bottom Rule. Colour only the top ten scores. Using a different colour, highlight the bottom ten scores. Your spreadsheet should look something like this, when you're done:

Conditional formatting with Top/Bottom rules applied

(You should notice the Excel colours 11 scores rather than 10. It does this because some of the scores are the same.)


In the next lesson, you'll see how to format cells so that they have bars in them.