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Microsoft Excel: How To Alternate the Color Between Rows

Sometimes you need to make large spreadsheets easier to read. Alternating colors between rows is a good way to do it. Here’s how.

In Excel, assigning an alternating color scheme to rows is known as color banding.

Start by selecting the cells you want to apply color banding to. Or press [Ctrl][A] to select the entire sheet.

microsoft excel spreadhseet cells selected

Next, select the Home tab on the Ribbon, select Styles and click Conditional Formatting.

microsoft excel conditional formatting

A drop-down menu will display, click New Rule.

conditional formatting new rule

The New Formatting Rule dialog appears. Click the bottom option labeled Use a Formula to Determine Which Cells to Format.

In the empty format value field, copy and paste in the following formula:


The New Formatting Rule window will look like this. Click Format.

excel formula to create banded rows

Pick a fill color and click OK.

excel fill pattern

The New Formatting Rule windows will display the color Preview. Click OK.


The section of your spreadsheet will now be color banded.

rows of alternating colors achieved

If you want to change the color or add more cells, highlight the cells on the spreadsheet. Then on the Ribbon go to Conditional Formatting > > Manage Rules.

manage excel 2007 or 2010 rules

The Conditional Formatting Rules Manager window comes up. Click Edit Rule.

edit rules in microsoft excel

You’ll be taken back to the Edit Formatting Screen and can adjust accordingly.

format rules

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15 Responses to Microsoft Excel: How To Alternate the Color Between Rows

  1. Dave October 18, 2011 at 5:32 am #

    There is an obvious typo in two places where the number 9 is inserted in place of the left parent (shift 9). Who hasn’t done that!

    I question the formula. Use =mod(row()/2)>0. It works equally well and is less convoluted.

    • ChuckZilla October 18, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

      I used your formula and it didn’t work.

  2. Dave October 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Oops, should be =mod(row(),2)>0

    • Peter Devos October 22, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      both formulas
      are giving error message in MS office Pro 2010 ?????

  3. James M Singleton October 20, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    I have been looking for a Windows application to automatically do it like an Excel addon.

  4. Michael October 22, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Why not use the Format as Table button beside it to do it automaticaly, then turn the header off and select your banding style on the Design tab that appears?

    • Avinash Arora October 31, 2011 at 10:43 am #

      I was thinking the same thing…there are much easier ways to do this, however conditional formatting is an amazing tool everyone using excel for presentation data should learn. Makes accounting and notable figures much more easy to find and work with.

  5. Peter Devos October 22, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Here is the correct formula ( separator is instead of )!

  6. nury October 24, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    thank you i just tried it and it worked thanx again

    • Steve Krause October 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

      NP Nury – it’s a great trick I agree.

  7. Free Unlimited Internet October 29, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    This really helped me a lot. I struggled with this for 1 hr could you be leave it.

  8. Techno Sage November 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Very nice tip!

  9. don January 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    way too complex, =iseven(row()) or =isodd(row())
    does the same thing

  10. Scott May 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Prior to XL2007, ISEVEN and ISODD required loading the Analysis Toolpak.

    In the mod formula, the >0 part isn’t necessary. 0 will evaluate to FALSE and any non-zero number will evaluate to TRUE, therefore;


    will suffice.

    If you want to start with a blank row, instead of a filled row, just subtract 1 in the formula:


  11. laune October 29, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    if error occurs
    should be a “;” instead of a “,” in the formula between row() & 2….
    so. =mod(row();2)=0

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