Highlight cells

Unlike other Microsoft Office programs, such as Word, Excel does not provide a button that you can use to highlight all or individual portions of data in a cell.

However, you can mimic highlights on a cell in a worksheet (worksheet: The primary document that you use in Excel to store and work with data. Also called a spreadsheet. A worksheet consists of cells that are organized into columns and rows; a worksheet is always stored in a workbook.) by filling the cells with a highlighting color. For a fast way to mimic a highlight, you can create a custom cell style that you can apply to fill cells with a highlighting color. Then, after you apply that cell style to highlight cells, you can quickly copy the highlighting to other cells by using Format Painter.

If you want to make specific data in a cell stand out, you can display that data in a different font color or format.

What do you want to do?


Create a cell style to highlight cells

  1. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click Cell Styles.

Excel Ribbon Image

 Tip   If you do not see the Cell Styles button, in the Styles group, click the More button Button image next to the cell styles box.

  1. Click New Cell Style.
  2. In the Style name box, type an appropriate name for the new cell style.

 Tip   For example, type Highlight.

  1. Click Format.
  2. In the Format Cells dialog box, on the Fill tab, select the color that you want to use for the highlight, and then click OK.
  3. Click OK to close the Style dialog box.

The new style will be added under Custom in the cell styles box.

  1. On the worksheet, select the cells or ranges (range: Two or more cells on a sheet. The cells in a range can be adjacent or nonadjacent.) of cells that you want to highlight.

ShowHow to select a cell or a range

To select Do this
A single cell Click the cell, or press the arrow keys to move to the cell.
A range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.

You can also select the first cell in the range, and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys. To stop extending the selection, press F8 again.

A large range of cells Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.
All cells on a worksheet

Click the Select All button.

Select All button

To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.

 Note   If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.

Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges

Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.

You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection. To stop adding cells or ranges to the selection, press SHIFT+F8 again.

 Note   You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.

An entire row or column

Click the row or column heading.

Worksheet showing row heading and column heading

 Row heading
 Column heading

You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

 Note   If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key a second time selects the entire row or column.

Adjacent rows or columns Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.
Nonadjacent rows or columns Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.
The first or last cell in a row or column Select a cell in the row or column, and then press CTRL+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).
The first or last cell on a worksheet or in a Microsoft Office Excel table

Press CTRL+HOME to select the first cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list.

Press CTRL+END to select the last cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list that contains data or formatting.

Cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner) Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END to extend the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).
Cells to the beginning of the worksheet Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+HOME to extend the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.
More or fewer cells than the active selection Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell (active cell: The selected cell in which data is entered when you begin typing. Only one cell is active at a time. The active cell is bounded by a heavy border.) and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.

 Tip   To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.

  1. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click Cell Styles.

 Tip   If you do not see the Cell Styles button, in the Styles group, click the More button Button image next to the cell styles box.

  1. Under Custom, click the new cell style.

 Tip   Custom cell styles are displayed at the top of the list of cell styles. If you see the cell styles box in the Styles group, and the new cell style is one of the first six cell styles on the list, you can click that cell style directly in the Styles group.

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Use Format Painter to apply a highlight to other cells

  1. Select a cell that is formatted with the highlight that you want to use.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, double-click Format Painter Button image, and then drag the mouse pointer across as many cells or ranges of cells that you want to highlight.
  3. When you're done, click Format Painter again or press ESC to turn it off.

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Display specific data in a different font color or format

  1. In a cell, select the data that you want to display in a different color or format.

ShowHow to select data in a cell

To select the contents of a cell Do this
In the cell Double-click the cell, and then drag across the contents of the cell that you want to select.
In the formula bar (formula bar: A bar at the top of the Excel window that you use to enter or edit values or formulas in cells or charts. Displays the constant value or formula stored in the active cell.) Formula bar Click the cell, and then drag across the contents of the cell that you want to select in the formula bar.
By using the keyboard Press F2 to edit the cell, use the arrow keys to position the insertion point, and then press SHIFT+ARROW key to select the contents.
  1. On the Home tab, in the Font group, do one of the following:
    • To change the text color, click the arrow next to Font Color Button image and then, under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, click the color that you want to use.
    • To apply the most recently selected text color, click Font Color Button image.
    • To apply a color other than the available theme colors and standard colors, click More Colors, and then define the color that you want to use on the Standard tab or Custom tab of the Colors dialog box.
    • To change the format, click Bold Button image, Italic Button image, or Underline Button image.

Keyboard shortcut  You can also press CTRL+B, CTRL+I, or CTRL+U.

  1. Excel Ribbon Image

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Applies to:
Excel 2007