Comparing Dollar Values in a Conditional Formatting Rule

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 6, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Barbara uses conditional formatting to highlight when one number is not equal to another number. She is working with dollars, so she only cares about the numbers being equal to the penny. Since Excel looks out to more decimal places, $100.00 may not be equal to $100.00 at the fifth decimal place and conditional formatting highlights the numbers as being unequal. The only way Barbara has been able to overcome this is by writing two formatting rules saying it is OK if the difference is within a range. She wonders if there is an easier way.

The easiest solution to this is to change the formulas used to generate the values so that they are rounded. For instance, let's say you have a formula that sums a range of cells. All you need to do is to change the formula so that the result of the sum is rounded:


If you are comparing rounded results in your worksheet, then you'll get the proper comparisons you desire.

Another approach is to change the formula used in your conditional formatting rules. Instead of checking if two values are equal, check if the rounded version of the two values is equal. As an example, if your conditional formatting rule compares the values stored in B6 and C6, you could change the rule to use this formula:


Still another approach is to modify the precision that Excel uses. As Barbara is aware, Excel does its calculations at a high level of precision, which is why she may have problems resulting from results at the fifth decimal place. Instead, you can modify how the calculations are done in this manner:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box click Advanced.
  3. Scroll through the available options until you get to the section entitled "When Calculating this Workbook." (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

  5. Ensure that the Set Precision As Displayed check box is selected.
  6. Click OK.

Now, Excel uses the precision shown on the screen in all of its calculations, instead of doing calculations at the full 15-digit precision it normally maintains. The benefit is that you don't have to then use the ROUND function in your formulas—you just change the formatting of the cells so that the desired number of decimal places are displayed.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9175) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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What is eight more than 2?

2024-01-08 17:24:10

Dave Bonin

I sometimes use ABS( B6 - C6 ) < 0.001

This keeps it a one-way comparison and it doesn't matter which value might be slightly bigger or smaller.

2024-01-06 18:16:44


Your two methods could give you different results since precision as displayed rounds before summing.

2024-01-06 10:11:41

J. Woolley

My Excel Toolbox includes the PrecisionAsDisplayed() function to return the status of a workbook's calculation precision (TRUE if 'AsDisplayed' or FALSE if 'Standard'). For example:
="Precision is "&IF(PrecisionAsDisplayed(),"'AsDisplayed'","'Standard'")
My Excel Toolbox also includes the TogglePrecision macro to switch between the two possibilities.
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