Explaining Microsoft’s “Conditional Formatting” Excel video

Microsoft has released a quick ‘TikTok style’ video which is strange and not that helpful at showing some good Excel and Office features.  We’ll explain what the video is trying to show off (Excel Conditional Formatting) and some more Office tricks too!

We found it in one of Microsoft 365’s latest tweets called ‘Impressing your boss’ here’s the full video – all nine seconds of it …

Source: Microsoft

It’s a handy tip for Excel using the extended ribbon short-cuts and Conditional Formatting, IF you can get those details from the video. 

I question the point in dancing over it. Frankly, both the person and music are pretty distracting to the overall point of the video. I found myself squinting at the screen to see what Excel did to the worksheet from their long ‘shortcut’. Perhaps this is more relatable for younger generations (and I’m a thirty-something!). There’s no harm in a simple, quick, step by step guide with shortcuts or just a short video of what to do… they can even have dancing, as long as the content is clear. Whatever you might think of the younger generation, they’re attention span is a lot longer than nine seconds!

Peter Deegan (a sixty-something and our Editor-in-Chief) didn’t get it at all. He asked me to explain what Microsoft was trying to get across in their video.  All he could see was the wrong aspect ratio <g>.

Here’s our alternative ‘no dancing’ version in a traditional aspect ratio … because I could not convince Peter to join the 21st Century <g>. After that we’ll explain the shortcuts and Conditional Formatting tricks.

Highlight cells above or below zero

If you need to quickly highlight which items on the list are over or under budget, rather than going one by one, there is a keyboard shortcut to do that  – which makes it take less than 5 seconds literally to do so

Here’s a worksheet that’s playfully like the one in the Microsoft video.

First, use Ctrl + A to highlight your spreadsheet or select only the column/cells you want to analyze (in this case the ‘Difference’ column).

Next press the Alt key followed by H L H L  and finally 0

Source: Microsoft

That’s the Alt + HLHL + 0 on the video.  Normally that’s written as  Alt, H , L , H, L, 0 – with commas or spaces showing that each key is pressed separately ( + usually means both keys together like Ctrl + Z )

Note: these ribbon shortcuts only work in Office for Windows and the browser based apps – not Office for Mac nor the Office document editors inside the Teams app.

Alt then keys on the ribbon

It’s showing off the nifty but little used Alt shortcuts on the ribbon.  Tap the Alt key and labels appear on the ribbon with clues to the shortcut keys available.  No need to memorise anything, all the clues are there on the screen.

Conditional Formatting

The Microsoft dancing video is showing off Excel Conditional Formatting … the shortcut takes you to Home | Styles | Conditional Formatting | Highlight Cells Rules | Less than.

This will bring up a dialog box where you can set a ‘Less than’ value.

Then once you select OK, all the items over budget (negative values) will have light red fill with dark red text.

Greater than or under budget

Almost the same shortcut will show you items that are under budget or higher than zero.

The Alt key followed by H L H G takes you to Home | Styles | Conditional Formatting | Highlight Cells Rules | Greater than.

Make the value 0 zero or whatever you like.

Change the color from the default Red to ‘Green Fill with Dark Green Text’ or whatever you prefer.

Excel is getting better Conditional Formatting with much needed improvements
Conditional Formatting – beyond the presets
Get the local time zone offset into Excel


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