Column Formatting Based On a Filter

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 14, 2015)

4

In a large table of data, Ed would like to be able to quickly scan and see if a particular column is being actively filtered. He wonders if there is any way to apply conditional formatting to change the background color of a column when there is a filter in play that is based on that column.

There are a few ways you can approach this task. All of them involve macros, and the purpose of each macro is to determine if a filter is in play for a particular column. One option is to create a function that examines the worksheet for a filter and, if it finds one in place, checking each column in the filtered area to see if there is a filter in play in that column. The following macro does just that.

Sub ColorFilterColumn()
    Dim flt As Filter
    Dim iCol As Integer
    Dim lRow As Long
    Dim rTemp As Range
    Dim bFullCol As Boolean

    ' Set as True if you want entire column shaded
    bFullCol = False

    If ActiveSheet.AutoFilterMode Then
        iCol = ActiveSheet.AutoFilter.Range.Column
        lRow = ActiveSheet.AutoFilter.Range.Row
        Application.EnableEvents = False
        For Each flt In ActiveSheet.AutoFilter.Filters
            If bFullCol Then
                Set rTemp = Cells(lRow, iCol).EntireColumn
            Else
                Set rTemp = Cells(lRow, iCol)
            End If

            If flt.On Then
                rTemp.Interior.Color = vbYellow
            Else
                rTemp.Interior.ColorIndex = xlColorIndexNone
            End If

            Set rTemp = Nothing
            iCol = iCol + 1
        Next flt
        Application.EnableEvents = True
    End If
End Sub

If the macro locates a filter that is at work, it either highlights (in yellow) the first cell in the filtered table or the entire column that has the filter. The determination as to whether a cell or the entire column is highlighted is based on the True/False value assigned to the bFullCol variable.

If you prefer, you could create a function that returns True or False based upon whether a filter is in effect for a particular column. With such a function you could create a conditional formatting rule that formats the column based upon the value returned.

Function bHasFilter(rcell As Range) As Boolean
    Dim lBaseCol As Long
    Dim lCol As Long

    Application.Volatile
    bHasFilter = False

    If ActiveSheet.AutoFilterMode Then
        With ActiveSheet.AutoFilter
            lBaseCol = .Range.Column
            lCol = rcell.Column - lBaseCol + 1
            If lCol > 0 And lCol <= .Filters.Count Then
                If .Filters(lCol).On Then bHasFilter = True
            End If
        End With
    End If
End Function

To use this function, simply use a formula such as the following in your worksheet or in the conditional formatting rule:

=bHasFilter(F23)

The function first checks to see if there is a filter in effect. If so, then it calculates whether the column of the cell passed to the formula is within the range of filtered columns. (The row referenced in the formula doesn't really matter.) If so, then it checks to see if the filter is turned on for that column.

There are other macro-based approaches that could be used, as well. You can find other resources related to determining what filtering is in effect at the following sites:

http://j-walk.com/ss/excel/usertips/tip044.htm
http://exceldesignsolutions.com/display-autofilter-criteria/

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13410) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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 9 + 6?

2015-11-16 06:03:36

DaveS

Having a helper row containing the (volatile) UDF returning TRUE/FALSE provides the automatic response to changes in the filter, so there's no reliance on manually firing a macro.

The approaches described in the tip might not work in every case (for example, on Tables; and conditional formatting is not without its quirks). But I've used something similar without problems - when there are a lot of columns, having a colour change can make it easier to spot the filtered column when scrolling across. Don't forget, folks, that someone asked if this could be done; just because it is of no use to you doesn't mean it's 'useless' to someone else.


2015-11-15 08:08:41

Willy Vanhaelen

I agree with Bob. This tip is rather useless because Excel already idicates the filtering columns involved by changing the drop-down arrow in the column header button into a filter symbol when a filter is applied. And that is reliable !!!


2015-11-15 07:22:34

Mike H

This works when the data being filtered has not been "Format as table". When I tried this with an Excel Table it didn't seem to work as AutoFilter macro command was not specific to the Table especially if the AutoFilter was not on at the startr Please could you test with a Table and see if you have the same issue. I believe it will need to have code which includes ListObjects to get this to work.


2015-11-14 15:41:08

Bob Beechey

I created macros like these but discarded them as they did not seem useful. I wanted something either (1)in a UDF that could be part of conditional formatting but this proved unreliable. (2) there was no event that was triggered by changing the filter.
The result is therefore relying on a macro that has to be fired manually and does not update of its own accord and so the colouring does not necessarily reflect the filtering.


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