Select One Cell and Make Another Cell Bold

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 11, 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:

=CELL("address")="$K$5"

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
    Else
        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.

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 (13178) 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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