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: Conditional Format that Checks for Data Type.

Conditional Format that Checks for Data Type

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 14, 2017)

2

Joshua is trying to establish a conditional format that will alert a user that text data has been entered into a cell intended for numerical data or when numerical data has been input into a cell intended for text data.

A conditional format can be used to draw attention to when an improper value (text or numeric) has been entered in a cell, but a more robust approach might be to prohibit the improper value from being entered in the first place. This can be done with the data validation capabilities of Excel. These capabilities have been discussed, in detail, in other ExcelTips; more information can be found here:

http://excelribbon.tips.net/C0786_Data_Validation.html

Using data validation you can specify the type and range of data permitted in a cell, along with how stringently you want that specification followed. If you prefer to not use data validation for some reason, you can set up a conditional format that will verify if the information placed in a cell is of the data type you want. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells that you want conditionally formatted.
  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 Highlight Cells Rules and then choose More Rules from the resulting submenu. Excel displays the New Formatting Rule dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The New Formatting Rule dialog box.

  5. In the Select a Rule Type area at the top of the dialog box, choose Use a Formula to Determine Which Cells to Format.
  6. In the Format Values Where This Formula Is True box, enter one of the following formulas. (The first is if you want to highlight the cell if it contains text; the second if it contains a number. Make sure you replace A1 with the cell address of the cell in the upper-left corner of the range selected in step 1.)
  7.      =ISTEXT(A1)
         =ISNUMBER(A1)
    
  8. Click Format to display the Format Cells dialog box.
  9. Using the controls in the dialog box, specify a format that you want used for those cells selected in step 1. For instance, you may want bold text in a red typeface.
  10. Click OK to dismiss the Format Cells dialog box. The formatting you specified in step 7 should now appear in the preview area for the rule.
  11. Click OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7073) 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: Conditional Format that Checks for Data Type.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Replacing and Formatting at the Same Time

The Find and Replace feature in Word is very powerful. So powerful, in fact, that you can change the formatting on ...

Discover More

Rounding to Even and Odd Values

Want to round values so they are always even or odd? You can do it quickly and easily by using the EVEN and ODD worksheet ...

Discover More

Adding Automatic Time Stamps

Your computer knows the current date and time, and Word provides ways you can get that date and time into your document. ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Detecting Errors in Conditional Formatting Formulas

If an error exists in a formula tucked inside a conditional format, you may never know it is there. There are ways to find ...

Discover More

Noting Inactivity within a Timeframe

There are many times when you are creating a worksheet that you need to analyze dates within that worksheet. Once such ...

Discover More

Conditional Formatting Based on Date Proximity

Conditional formatting can be used to draw your attention to certain cells based on what is within those cells. This tip ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 3?

2017-03-15 10:48:28

Jack

A handy add on to this is if you want to apply conditional formatting to a whole row based on the result of a test on a single cell in that row, you can put a $ in front of the Column letter e.g. =ISNUMBER($A1). Then if the cell in column A is a number the whole row get formatted


2017-01-14 05:34:37

Barry

There are some quirks in MS Excel that may defeat this simple test (=ISTEXT(A1), so the input looks like a number but is actually text.

A numeric can be entered as text and the ISTEXT formula will accept it as text (likwise the ISNUMBER function in reverse). This in itself is OK but if the value in the cell is used in a formula (and not all functions will do this) e.g. =A1*2 then Excel will interpret the text as its numerical equivalent, and not give the #VALUE error.

Numbers can be entered as text either by formatting the cell as "Text" or preceding the entry with an apostrophe " ' ".

The inconsistent treatment can be annoying but it seems simple arithmetic operators (e.g. + - * /) will convert the text to numbers but other more complex functions do not. I have tested this exhaustively because there are so many functions in Excel. But it is worth bearing this mind when devising your spreadsheet and input validation


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.