Select One Cell and Make Another Cell Bold

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 24, 2020)


Clay wants to know if there is a way that when he selects a specific cell Excel will automatically make the contents of a different cell bold. For instance, if he selects cell K5 he would like whatever is in cell C5 to show as bold; when he leaves cell K5 (to go to a different cell), then cell C5 should revert to however it was before selecting K5 made it bold.

In coming up with solutions, you might think you could use conditional formatting to apply the formatting to cell C5. Theoretically, this should be easy to do; all you need to do is create a conditional formatting rule based on the following formula:


Since the CELL function, as used here, returns the address of whatever cell is selected, then whenever cell K5 is selected, the formatting in the rule (in this case, setting the cell to bold) is applied. The problem with this approach, however, is that it doesn't work well in practice.

The reason is because the CELL function is only evaluated when the worksheet is recalculated. If you just select cell K5, then the worksheet isn't recalculated, so the formula doesn't resolve to True, and the conditional format is not applied. The only way for it to work is to select cell K5, then press F9 to recalculate the worksheet, and then cell C5 will show up as bold.

The best way to go about the formatting is to use a macro, specifically one tied to the SelectionChange event for the worksheet. This event triggers every time the selected cell is changed. The following macro checks to see if cell K5 is selected. If it is, then cell C5 is bolded; if it is not, then cell C5 is "unbolded."

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
    If ActiveCell.Address(False, False) = "K5" Then
        Range("C5").Font.Bold = True
        Range("C5").Font.Bold = False
    End If  
End Sub

Remember that this macro is added to the code for the sheet to which is applies—right click the worksheet tab and choose View Code. That is where the macro should be placed. Since the macro is executed every time you change what is selected in the worksheet, the "bold status" of cell C5 is continually updated.

Note that the macro effectively toggles the Bold property of the cell. Thus, if you select a cell other than K5, whatever is in cell C5 will not be bold. This doesn't apply, of course, if you do have some other conditional formatting rule defined for cell C5 that would cause it to appear as bold. In that case, the conditional format takes precedence of anything that this particular macro might do.


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.

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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 one more than 1?

2018-11-02 06:34:04


I tried to make this more generic. To do this I copied the formatting from the original worksheet to another worksheet ("SheetXFormat"). In the SelectionChange sub i want to copy the formatting from "SheetXFormat" back to the original worksheet and then change the formatting of a cell offset from the selected cell by the appropriate amount (in my case I am changing the colour not the font).

But I cant figure out how to restore the cell formatting from the copy. In the code below, the "PasteSpecial" statement (line 3) doesn't work. It actually selects the entire sheet which I don't want to do, it then doesn't paste the copied cell formats, and by selecting the entire sheet it causes the offset cell format change (line 4) to fail. With that line commented out, the offset cell format change is succesful.

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
ActiveSheet.Cells.PasteSpecial xlPasteFormats
Target.Offset(rowOffset:=10, columnOffset:=5).Interior.Color = vbYellow
End Sub

Any help would be appreciated (it might also help others as I think my proposed solution is closer to the original requirement than the other solutions here).

2018-03-20 06:35:16

Willy Vanhaelen

For row 3 try:

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
Range("3:3").Font.Bold = (Target.Row = 3)
End Sub

For column D:

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
Range("D:D").Font.Bold = (Target.Column = 4)
End Sub

Change the row number or the column letter/number to suit your needs.

2018-03-19 07:39:05


however, how does it change for every change in cell column or row ? For e.g. if I need certain rows to formatted to be a specific format if any of the columns in that row is selected... or the vice versa for columns where any rows in the column are selected..

2018-03-19 06:06:56

Willy Vanhaelen

Here is a one-liner that does the job equally well:

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
Range("C5").Font.Bold = (Target.Address = "$K$5")
End Sub

2014-07-29 19:23:00

Peter Atherton

I seem to remember that the original query stated 'Select say K5 then C5 should be bold'. This suggests that applying it to a range might be what the OP requires.

The following applies this to a range.

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
Dim rngFormat As Range
Set Target = Range(Cells(2, 10), Cells(2, 10).End(xlDown))
Set rngFormat = Range(Cells(2, 3), Cells(2, 3).End(xlDown))

If Intersect(Target, ActiveCell) Is Nothing Then Exit Sub
rngFormat.Font.Bold = False
ActiveCell.Offset(0, -7).Font.Bold = True

End Sub

2014-07-28 08:04:29


Whoops, had an errant quotation mark and lost a parenthesis. Should be:

If Not Intersect(Target, Range("K5")) Is Nothing Then

2014-07-28 08:02:49


Why use ActiveCell when Target is already provided for you? I prefer If "Not Intersect(Target, Range("K5") Is Nothing Then" to check if a range is selected (this will work if K5 is included in a multi-cell selection as well).

2014-07-28 03:39:43

Carl Willems

You could use the Conditional formatting suggestion using =CELL("address")="$K$5"
and create a Selection_Change event for the worksheet that invokes recalculation

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
End Sub

BUT: it will trigger recalculation at every change of selection, so if you have a worksheet with a lot of formula's and data, it may drive you crazy as you may have a delay because of the recalculation whenever you move to another cell.

2014-07-26 12:31:43

Christian Boissinotte

Clay : cell C5 should to revert to however it was before

So If it was already bold, it should not be "unbold".

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