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How to ignore blank or zero cells in conditional formatting in Excel?

Author: Siluvia Last Modified: 2020-04-28

Supposing you have a list of data with zero or blank cells, and you want to conditional format this list of data but ignore the blank or zero cells, what would you do? In this article, we will show you how to use conditional formatting with ignoring blank or zero cells in Excel.

Ignore blank cells in conditional formatting in Excel
Ignore zero cells in conditional formatting in Excel


Ignore blank cells in conditional formatting in Excel

After creating conditional formatting rules for the list of data, you need to add a new rule to ignore the blank cells in the list.

1. Keep staying in the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box, then click the New Rule button. See screenshot:

Note: You can open the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box by clicking Conditional Formatting > Manage Rules under Home tab.

2. Then it gets into the New Formatting Rule dialog box. You can do as the below two methods to ignore blank cells in conditional formatting.

Method 1

  • a. Select Format only cells that contain in the Select a Rule Type box;
  • b. Select Blanks in the Format only cells with drop-down list;
  • c. Do not select any format and click the OK button. See screenshot:

Method 2

  • a. In the Select a Rule Type box, select Use a formula to determine which cells to format;
  • b. Copy and paste the formula =ISBLANK(A2)=TRUE into the Format values where this formula is true box;
  • Note: here the A2 in the formula is the first cell of the selected range. For example, your selected range is B3:E12, you need to change A2 to B3 in the formula.
  • c. Click the OK button without specifying any format.

3. Then it returns to the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box. No matter which method you use to ignore blanks, you need to check the Stop If True box in this dialog box, and then click the OK button. See screenshot:

Then the selected cells are formatted excepting the blanks.


Ignore zero cells in conditional formatting in Excel

If you have a list of data in range B2:B12, and you want format the lowest five values among them but ignore the zero cells, please do as follows.

1. Select the range B2:B12, then click Conditional Formatting > New Rule under Home tab.

2. In the Edit Formatting Rule dialog box, you need to:

  • 1). In the Select a Rule Type box, select Use a formula to determine which cells to format;
  • 2). Copy and paste formula =AND(B2<>0,B2<=SMALL(IF(B$2:B$12<>0,$B$2:$B$12),5)) into the Format values where this formula is true box;
  • 3). Click the Format button to specify format for the cells;
  • 4). After specifying the format, click the OK button. See screenshot:

Note: You need to change the cell range in the formula to meet your needs.

After that, you can see the lowest five values in the selected list are formatted immediately without formatting the zero values.


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Comments (8)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Literally none of this is working for me. I simply want to highlight anything 9 & below as green and anything 10 and above as red AND any cells that do not have a number stays empty/white. I have done every way of formatting and no matter what I do, all blank cells are green.

What's the deal?? I am using a VLOOKUP formula to locate the data, is that messing up the conditional formatting?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi Penny,

After adding you rules, create a new Formula rule and use this formula =ISBLANK(B2)=TRUE (B2 is the first cell of the selected range). When it returns to the Conditional Fprmatting Rules Manager, check the Stop if True box at the end of the ISBLANK rule, then click the OK button.
https://www.extendoffice.com/images/stories/comments/comment-picture-zxm/ignore-blank.png
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thank you so much! This helped me solve a problem! :)
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Please help with this problem. I am trying to apply conditional formatting for these cells
For example: E5 is Y(Y can only be selected within (C:E)) but I5 in (G:I) and M5 in (K:M) are blank then I5 M5 will be shaded as red using these 2 formulas
- IF(AND(C5="Y", ISBLANK(G5), ISBLANK(K5)),TRUE,FALSE).
OR
- AND(C8="Y",G8="",K8="")
These 2 formulas only shade the cells from the adjacent range. For the example above it only shades I5 but if I enter Y in H6, L6 will be shaded
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
just an FYI, if you don't click stop if true before clicking apply, the rule will not work. even if you go back and click stop if true, it won't work.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
THANKS MATE, you save me.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Neat solution and the way to go if you're using the inbuilt options for your other conditional formatting or have multiple rules, but if you are using a formula to determine formatting you can ignore blanks with a single rule by encapsulating your formula within an IF statement: =IF([CellRef]="","",[Your Formula])
Also your approach stops all further formatting rules, but you might still want to conditionally format a blank cell, e.g. shade or fill it, based on the contents of another cell or other not directly related criteria (although in that case you could re-order the rules).
It's a shame that Microsoft don't just include an 'ignore blanks' tick box on a per rule basis...
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Brilliant! I used this today on a large dataset. Very helpful!
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