# Highlighting Values that are 10x a Baseline Value

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 20, 2020)

Marissa works for a lab where she uses Excel to prepare client reports showing the results of mold spore sampling. The first sample shown is always the baseline. All subsequent samples on the report need to be highlighted if they are 10x the baseline. Marissa has this figured out if the baseline is greater than 0, but if the baseline is 0, the samples should only be highlighted if they are 10 or more. (In other words, a baseline of 0 and 1 are treated exactly the same for comparison and highlighting purposes.)

Let's assume, for a moment, that the baseline value is in cell A2. Chances are good that Marissa has developed a formula for her conditional formatting rule which compares the sample values (let's say they start in cell A3) with the baseline value, multiplied by 10, like this:

```=A3 >= (\$A\$2 * 10)
```

This returns True if the value in A3 is greater than or equal to the baseline value in cell A2. The only thing that needs to be done to this formula is to make sure that the baseline value being used is never less than 1. There are any number of adjustments that can be done to the formula. For instance, the following uses an IF statement to evaluate the baseline value. If it is equal to 0, then it returns a modified value of 10.

```=A3 >= (IF(\$A\$2 = 0, 10, \$A\$2 * 10))
```

You could also use the MAX function, if desired, which returns the largest value from a series of values:

```=A3 >= (MAX(\$A\$2,1) * 10)
```

Note that MAX will return either the baseline value in A2 or the value 1, whichever is greater. In other words, the baseline value will never be less than 1.

Finally, you could avoid worksheet functions in your formula altogether if you simply rely on how Excel handles Boolean logic. Consider this formula:

```=A3 >= (\$A\$2 - (\$A\$2 = 0)) * 10
```

This works on the very simple principle that, if the baseline value (cell A2) contains 0, then (\$A\$2=0) returns the value -1 (the value Excel uses for True); if the baseline value is anything other than 0, then the test (\$A\$2=0) will return 0 (the value Excel uses for False). This value (-1 or 0) will then be subtracted from the baseline and multiplied by 10. In other words, if A2 contains zero, the formula will be tested against 0--1, which equals 1, and so the test will be performed as if A1 contained 1.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13447) 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. ...

##### MORE FROM ALLEN

Specifying Proper Case

If you need to change the case of letters in a cell, one of the functions you can use is the PROPER function. This tip ...

Discover More

Printing Reports

The Report Manager allows you to create specialized reports that can be easily printed from your worksheet data. This tip ...

Discover More

Stopping Smart Tags from Being Saved

Don't want Smart Tag information saved with your document? It's easy to make sure that Word doesn't save it, as described ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

##### More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Applying Conditional Formatting to Multiple Worksheets

If you just updated your copy of Excel, you may have noticed some differences in how the program handles applying ...

Discover More

Conditionally Formatting Cells Containing Dates

Need to know if a particular cell contains a date value? Excel doesn't have a worksheet function to determine this ...

Discover More

Returning a Value Based on Text Color

Conditional formatting rules can be used to adjust the way in which information is displayed in Excel, such as the text ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. Youâ€™ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is six minus 1?

2020-08-20 12:42:57

Ken

It is NEVER good programming practice to rely on the internal representation of a value. Two major problems with this approach are: 1) it is opaque in that it is necessary to know how TRUE and FALSE are represented in order to understand the solution; 2) if the underlying platform/environment changes (like going from spreadsheet to macro, or porting to a different office suite), then a pretty insidious error can be introduced. Better to let TRUE be TRUE and not -1.

2016-06-21 13:23:53

David A. Gray

FWIW, I used the word TRUE in an abstract sense; TRUE is TRUE and FALSE is FALSE, and their underlying numerical values are irrelevant to working out the expression, which remains a problem in Boolean logic.

2016-06-20 17:38:45

Gary

Tony
I think True evaluates as 1 not minus 1, so the formula as you wrote works on that premise.

2016-06-20 15:45:50

David A. Gray

With regard to conditional formatting, I think the simplest way to think about the formatting formula is that the goal is to write an expression that evaluates to TRUE when you want the formatting to be applied.

2016-06-20 09:01:12

Willy Vanhaelen

@Tony

You are right.

The author of this tip overlooked the fact that, while in VBA TRUE equals -1, in a worksheet =TRUE equals 1 (positive).

Proof: enter =N(TRUE) or =TRUE*1 in a cell, in both cases the result is 1.

In my opinion =A3>=(MAX(\$A\$2,1)*10) is easier to understand and even shorter.

2016-06-20 02:52:04

Tony

Isn't the formula
=A3 >= (\$A\$2 - (\$A\$2 = 0)) * 10
the wrong way round.
If \$A\$2 = 0 is true, the value is 1 (ie +1).
I'm using Excel 2010 and I need to use the formula
=A3 >= (\$A\$2 + (\$A\$2 = 0)) * 10
to get the correct result.

##### This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.