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How to apply conditional formatting across worksheets/workbooks?

For example you want to apply conditional formatting based on values from another workbook as below screenshot shown, do you have any idea to archive it easily in Excel? This article comes up with two solutions for you.

Apply conditional formatting across sheets/workbooks with referring values

Apply conditional formatting across sheets/workbooks with Kutools for Excel

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This method will refer values from another workbook to the current worksheet, and then apply the conditional formatting to the range in the current worksheet. Please do as follows:

1. Open both workbooks you will apply conditional formatting across, select a blank cell you will refer values from another workbook, says Cell G2, enter the formula ='[My List.xlsx]Sheet1'!A2 into it, and then drag the AutoFill Handle to the range as you need. See screenshot:

doc conditional formatting across sheets workbooks 5

Note: In the formula, My List.xlsx is the workbook name with extension you will refer values from, Sheet1 is the worksheet name you will refer values from, and A2 is the first cell of the range you will refer from.

2. Select the range you will apply conditional formatting to, and click Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule.

3. In the opening New Formatting Rule dialog box, please do as follows:

(1) In the Select a Rule Type section, click to highlight the Use a formula to determine which cells to format option;

(2) In the Format values where this formula is true box, please enter the formula =COUNTIF($H$2:$H$11,$B2)>0 ($H$2:$H$11 is the range you referred from another workbook in Step 1, $B2 is the first cell of range you will apply conditional formatting based on);

(3) Click the Format button.

4. In the popping up Format Cells dialog box, please specify the format as you need, and click the OK button.

In our case, we select a fill color under the Fill tab. See screenshot

5. Click the OK button in the New Formatting Rule dialog box.

And then you will see the specified range is conditionally formatted based on the values from another workbook. See screenshot:

doc conditional formatting across sheets workbooks 9


This method will introduce Kutools for Excel’s Select Same & Different Cells utility to easily apply conditional formatting across worksheets or workbook easily as normal.

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1. Open both workbooks you will apply conditional formatting across, and click Kutools > Select > Select Same & Different Cells. See screenshot:

doc conditional formatting across sheets workbooks kte 1

2. In the opening Compare Ranges dialog box, please do as follows:

doc conditional formatting across sheets workbooks kte 2

(1) In the Find Values in box, select the column in the current worksheet you will apply conditional formatting to;
(2) In the According to box, select the column you will apply conditional formatting based on from another worksheet or workbook (Tip: If you can’t select the column from another opening workbook, you can type the range address directly such as '[My List.xlsx]Sheet1'!$A$1:$A$10.
(3) In the Based on section, check the Each row option;
(4) In the Find section, check the Same Values option;
(5) In the Processing of results section, check the Fill backcolor option, and specify a fill color from below drop down list.
(6) Check the Select entire rows option as you need.
(7) Click the Ok

Note: If both ranges you selected contain same headers, please check the My data has headers option.

3. And then a dialog box comes out and shows how many rows have been selected, just click the OK button to close it.

So far the range in the current worksheet has been conditionally formatted based on values from another worksheet/workbook. See screenshot:

doc conditional formatting across sheets workbooks 4

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