Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Displaying Negative Percentages in Red.

Displaying Negative Percentages in Red

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 10, 2016)

It's easy using Excel's built-in number formats to display negative values in red. What isn't so obvious is how to display negative percentages in red. This is because Excel doesn't provide a built-in format that addresses this situation.

There are two distinct ways you can display negative percentages in red. One way is to use a custom number format. Precise details on how you put together custom formats has been covered in other issues of ExcelTips, so here is the quick way you can get the desired results:

  1. Select the cell (or cells) that may contain negative percentages.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the lower-right corner of the Number group. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box, with the Number tab selected.
  4. In the Category list, choose Custom. The dialog box changes so you can enter a custom format. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. In the Type box, enter the following: 0.00%;[Red]-0.00%
  7. Click OK.

The format you specify in step 5 displays positive percentages with two decimal places and displays negative percentages in red with two decimal places. (You can modify the number of decimal places in the format, if necessary.)

The other way that you can display negative percentages in red is to use conditional formatting by following these steps:

  1. Select the cell (or cells) that may contain negative percentages.
  2. With the Home tab of the ribbon displayed, click the Conditional Formatting option in the Styles group. Excel displays a palette of options related to conditional formatting.
  3. Choose New Rule. Excel displays the New Formatting Rule dialog box.
  4. In the Select a Rule Type area at the top of the dialog box, choose Format Only Cells that Contain.
  5. Using the left-most drop-down list in the criteria area, select Cell Value. (This option may already be selected, by default.) (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The New Formatting Rule dialog box.

  7. Make sure the center drop-down list is Less Than.
  8. In the box to the right of the second drop-down list, enter the numeral 0.
  9. Click Format. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box with the Font tab selected. (See Figure 3.)
  10. Figure 3. The Font tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  11. Use the Color drop-down list to choose the shade of red you want used for the negative percentages.
  12. Click OK to close the Format Cells dialog.
  13. Click OK to close the New Formatting Rule dialog.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6816) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Displaying Negative Percentages in Red.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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