Conditionally Formatting Cells Containing Dates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 22, 2018)

Murali has a large worksheet that contains a variety of different formats. He would like to use conditional formatting to highlight cells that contain dates. He's at a loss, though, as to how to set up the conditional format correctly.

The problem is that Excel doesn't have a worksheet function that returns whether a particular cell contains a date or not. Fortunately, VBA includes such a function, IsDate. This means that you can create a very simple user-defined function to return True or False, depending on whether a cell contains a date:

Function MyIsDate(rCell As Range)
    MyIsDate = IsDate(rCell)
End Function

You can then reference this function in a conditional formatting rule and adjust the formatting based on the results. Remember that this function returns True if the cell contains any date; it does not check for specific dates.

If, for some reason, you don't want to use a macro, you could try this slick little workaround: Set up a conditional formatting rule that relies on the results of a formula. The particular formula you should use is as follows:

=LEFT(CELL("format",A1))="D"

The formula returns the format code used for the cell. (In this case the cell is A1. Change this to reflect the cell you are actually testing.) If the first character of the format code is D, then the formula returns True. Excel uses various format codes that begin with D when you format a cell as a date.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11817) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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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