Ensuring Conditional Formatting and Data Validation is Copied

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 9, 2016)


Pam has created a table that a LOT of users have access to add data to. She has many columns that she has applied data validation and conditional formatting to. However, when users add rows to the table, the conditional formatting and data validation is not always copied down. Pam wonders how she can ensure that it is.

There are actually two approaches to this, and the approach you choose depends on how you want your data to be treated. Perhaps the easiest approach is to define your data as a table. You can do that in this manner:

  1. Select all your data. (Some people say that you only need to select a cell in the data, but if your data contains blanks it is more reliable to select all the data.)
  2. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Table tool, in the Tables group. Excel displays the Create Table dialog box.
  4. In the dialog box, make sure the settings reflect the nature of your data. (The settings have to do with the table data range and whether your data has headers or not.)
  5. Click OK. Excel converts the data to a formal table.

At this point, anytime you add information in the rows below the table, Excel automatically formats the new data in the same fashion as the data in the rest of the table. This includes the application of conditional formatting and data validation.

The other approach is to format a row beneath your data so that it reflects your conditional formatting and data validation. Then, make sure that new rows are added above this "end row." Toward that end, you may want to make the row hidden or even lock it. Since new rows are being added between rows already formatted (the last data row and the "end row"), then the newly inserted rows acquire all the formatted of the cells around them. The only drawback to this approach (unlike the earlier approach) is that your users cannot just start typing at the end of the data; they have to do the insert and then enter data in the inserted row.

Finally, a third possibility is to create a macro to add new data or to make sure that your formatting is consistent. Exactly how you do this depends on the characteristics of your data.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13455) 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 four minus 2?

2017-09-28 09:19:41


I've experienced always having trouble if the table's is extended by dragging the last cell down but if rows are added via tab conditional formatting & data validation are kept more consistently. (If rows are ever added via the drag then the problem continues even with using tab.)

2016-07-11 16:27:05


Allen's table method works for me with Excel 2013. Whether I drag down the lower right icon of the table, select the bottom row and right-click and choose insert rows below, or just enter a value below the table (it automatically becomes part of the table), both my conditional formatting range and data validation expands with the table.

2016-07-11 11:03:33


I'll chime in as well that the "insert row" approach does not work well with conditional formatting. In my specific case, Excel applies the conditional formatting, but not as part of the range I'm using. When using a "Top/Bottom Rule", it applies the formatting with the new row as an individual range. I always have to edit the conditional format rules to include the new row in the range and remove the rule for the individual row.

2016-07-11 09:53:36


Hi Allen, I submitted this question. The data is in a table (always has been) and I encourage the users to go to the bottom of the table and drag the icon in the last cell to expand the table - hoping that will keep the data validation and conditional formatting on the new rows. However it doesn't. It does seem to keep the data validation sometimes, but the conditional formatting is often lost. If rows are inserted, both are lost.
Ian, I don't think you are doing anything wrong - I think it is just a glitch in the program. I hope MS will change it so both data validation and conditional formatting can be applied to a table column as well as a range of cells.

2016-07-10 19:23:51


Hi Allen,
I have been doing this for years and it doesn't work. I have office 2007. Every time I add cells in above the bottom row in either a table, just a named range or just cells (not named or table), the new rows do not have the conditional formatting included. I have tried formatting the same as above and even that does not work for the conditional formatting.
I emailed you about a month ago in relation to this happening, hoped to see in your tips but. Maybe I am doing something wrong but I have tried many different ways to no avail.

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