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

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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    Anya Polen · 20 days ago
    Brilliant! I used this today on a large dataset. Very helpful!

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