Highlight cells

Unlike other Microsoft Office programs, such as Word, Excel does not provide a button that you can use to highlight all or individual portions of data in a cell.

However, you can mimic highlights on a cell in a worksheet by filling the cells with a highlighting color. For a fast way to mimic a highlight, you can create a custom cell style that you can apply to fill cells with a highlighting color. Then, after you apply that cell style to highlight cells, you can quickly copy the highlighting to other cells by using Format Painter.

If you want to make specific data in a cell stand out, you can display that data in a different font color or format.

Create a cell style to highlight cells

  1. Click Home > New Cell Styles.

    Notes: 

    • If you don't see Cell Style, click the More Button image button next to the cell style gallery.

    • More button in the Style gallery

  2. In the Style name box, type an appropriate name for the new cell style.

    Tip: For example, type Highlight.

  3. Click Format.

  4. In the Format Cells dialog box, on the Fill tab, select the color that you want to use for the highlight, and then click OK.

  5. Click OK to close the Style dialog box.

    The new style will be added under Custom in the cell styles box.

  6. On the worksheet, select the cells or ranges of cells that you want to highlight. How to select cells?

  7. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click the new custom cell style you created.

    Note: Custom cell styles are displayed at the top of the list of cell styles. If you see the cell styles box in the Styles group, and the new cell style is one of the first six cell styles on the list, you can click that cell style directly in the Styles group.

Use Format Painter to apply a highlight to other cells

  1. Select a cell that is formatted with the highlight that you want to use.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, double-click Format Painter Button image , and then drag the mouse pointer across as many cells or ranges of cells that you want to highlight.

  3. When you're done, click Format Painter again or press ESC to turn it off.

Display specific data in a different font color or format

  1. In a cell, select the data that you want to display in a different color or format.

    How to select data in a cell

    To select the contents of a cell

    Do this

    In the cell

    Double-click the cell, and then drag across the contents of the cell that you want to select.

    In the formula bar Button image

    Click the cell, and then drag across the contents of the cell that you want to select in the formula bar.

    By using the keyboard

    Press F2 to edit the cell, use the arrow keys to position the insertion point, and then press SHIFT+ARROW key to select the contents.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Font group, do one of the following:

    • To change the text color, click the arrow next to Font Color  Font Color button on the Home tab and then, under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, click the color that you want to use.

    • To apply the most recently selected text color, click Font Color Font Color button on the Home tab .

    • To apply a color other than the available theme colors and standard colors, click More Colors, and then define the color that you want to use on the Standard tab or Custom tab of the Colors dialog box.

    • To change the format, click Bold Button image , Italic Button image , or Underline Button image .

      Keyboard shortcut  You can also press CTRL+B, CTRL+I, or CTRL+U.

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