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How to alternate row color based on group in Excel?

Author: Xiaoyang Last Modified: 2020-12-11

In Excel, to color every other row may be easier for most of us, but, have you ever tried to color the rows alternately based on a column value changes – Column A as following screenshot shown, in this article, I will talk about how to alternate row color based on group in Excel.

Color the rows alternately based on value changes with helper column and Conditional Formatting

Color the rows alternately based on value changes with a useful feature

Color the rows alternately with two colors based on value changes with helper column and Conditional Formatting


Color the rows alternately based on value changes with helper column and Conditional Formatting

To highlight the rows alternately based on group, there is no direct way for you, so you need to create a helper column and then apply the conditional formatting function to color them. Please do as follows:

1. In cell D1, the same row of the headers, enter the number 0.

2. And in cell D2, type this formula: =IF(A2=A1,D1,D1+1) , and then drag this formula down to the cells that you want to apply it, see screenshot:

Note: In the above formula, A1, A2 are the first and second cell of the column which value changes, D1 is the cell that you entered the helper number 0.

3. Then select the data range A2:D18 which including the helper formula column, and click Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule, see screenshot:

4. In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, select Use a formula to determine which cells to format under the Select a Rule Type section, and enter this formula =AND(LEN($A2)>0,MOD($D2,2)=0) into the Format values where this formula is true text box, see screenshot:

Note: A2 is the first cell of your column which you color based on, and D2 is the first cell of the helper column you created of the selected range

5. Then click Format button to go to the Format Cells dialog, and select one color you like under the Fill tab, see screenshot:

6. Then click OK > OK to close the dialogs, and the rows have been highlighted alternately based on the specific column which value changes, see screenshot:


Color the rows alternately based on value changes with a useful feature

If the above method is difficult for you, you can use a useful tool-Kutools for Excel, with its Distingush differences feature, you can quickly color the rows based on the group alternately in Excel.

Tips:To apply this Distingush differences feature, firstly, you should download the Kutools for Excel, and then apply the feature quickly and easily.

After installing Kutools for Excel, please do as this:

1. Click Kutools > Format > Distingush differences, see screenshot:

2.In the Distingush differences by key column dialog box, please do the following operations as you need. See screenshot:

3.After finishing the settings, click Ok button to close the dialog, and you will get the following result as you need:

Click to Download Kutools for Excel and free trial Now!


Color the rows alternately with two colors based on value changes with helper column and Conditional Formatting

If you want to shade the rows with two different colors alternately based on value changes as following screenshot shown, this also can be solved in Excel with Conditional Formatting.

1. First, you should create a new helper column and formula as first method from step 1 to step 2, you will get the following screenshot:

2. Then select the data range A2:D18, and then click Home > Conditional Formatting > Manage Rules, see screenshot:

3. In the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box, click New Rule button, see screenshot:

4. In the popped out New Formatting Rule dialog, click Use a formula to determine cells to format under the Select a Rule Type, and then enter this formula =ISODD($D2) (D2 is the first cell of the helper column you created the formula), and then click Format button to choose the filling color you like for the odd rows of the group, see screenshot:

5. Then click OK to exit this dialog to return back the former Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box, please click New Rule button again to create another rule for the even rows of the group.

6. In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, click Use a formula to determine cells to format under the Select a Rule Type as former, and then enter this formula =ISEVEN($D2) (D2 is the first cell of the helper column you created the formula), and then click Format button to choose another background color for the even rows of the group, see screenshot:

7. Then click OK to return the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager, and you can see the two rules are created as follows:

8. Then click OK to close this dialog, and you can see your selected data range has been shaded with two different colors alternately based on the column value changes.

  • Notes:
  • 1. After coloring the rows alternately, you can hide the helper column as you need, but you can’t delete it.
  • 2. If there are no headers in your data range, you just enter 1 as the first number in the helper column, and then apply the helper formula as usual.

More articles:

  • Increment Numbers When Value Changes In Another Column
  • Supposing, you have a list of values in column A, and now you want to increment number by 1 in column B when the value in column A changes, which means the numbers in column B increment until the value in column A changes, then the number increment starts from 1 again as left screenshot shown. In Excel, you can solve this job with following method.
  • Insert Blank Rows When Value Changes In Excel
  • Supposing you have a range of data, and now you want to insert blank rows between the data when value changes, so that you can separate the sequential same values in one column as following screenshots shown. In this article, I will talk about some tricks for you to solve this problem.
  • Sum Cells When Value Changes In Another Column
  • When you work on Excel worksheet, sometime, you may need to sum cells based on group of data in another column. For example, here, I want to sum the orders in column B when the data changes in column A to get the following result. How could you solve this promblem in Excel?
  • Insert Page Breaks When Value Changes In Excel
  • Supposing, I have a range of cells, and now, I want to insert page breaks into the worksheet when values in column A changes as left screenshot shown. Of course, you can insert them one by one, but are there any quick ways to insert the page breaks at once based on the changed values of one column?

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Comments (17)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
is it possible to make this work when you use filters? if i apply a filter and the helper column are both 2 different odd numbers, then both rows have the same color.... how can we make this apply to filtered data, and still work when unfiltered?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hey, thanks for the help. I tried this and the coloring is off by one. Any ideas?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Modify the formula to apply the conditional formatting to the header as well.=AND(LEN($A1)>0,MOD($D1,2)=0)
This works better for me than trying to highlight just my data rows.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
When you highlight the selection don't highlight the header row.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
I hate helper columns. I'd rather have a huge formula before I put in a helper column. Sometimes Macros are easier, but I'm not always allowed to use macro enabled spreadsheets. When I want to use a macro, I usually run it from my Personal.xlsb, but that doesn't really help with avoiding a helper column.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thank you very much for this, it was much appreciated.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
just use 1-prev_value, and you get alternating 1 and 0 s
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thanks for this formula, been thinking it wasn't possible for a while. Here's a question: Can you format each group to be a different color? Or are you limited to 2 alternating colors?

Thanks!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Great piece of information. you helped me to present my analysis results better.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thank you so much for this post, I've wanted to be able to change row color based on group for a long time. Easy to follow and much appreciated!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
This formula (when used in conditional formatting) would alternate the row color based on group without the assistance of a helper row: =ISODD(SUMPRODUCT(1/COUNTIF($A$1:$A2,$A$1:$A2)))
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
This formula works great if your table only has 100 rows. But it really slows down when you have 5,000 rows. Any suggestions to speed up the formula on larger datasets?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hello, Barb,
You can try the below formula:
=MOD(SUMPRODUCT(--($A$1:$A1<>$A$2:$A2)),2)


Note: When you select the data range, please exclude the first header row.

Please try, hope it can help you!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Fantastic! Well done!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Justin, your formula is nice because it doesn't require a helper column, but for some reason it requires extra RAM and slows the workbook down noticeably. I would recommend using the formula given in the article and just dealing with the helper column.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Hi Justin. When I use either the helper row method or yours, it formats one row off. Do you know why?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
More than likely - as I did - you selected the whole columns, and not just the data (excl. any headings)
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