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Pivot Tables help you summarize large data collections in an Excel worksheet, but it can be hard to find data that matches specific criteria just by looking at the numbers. It's much easier to change a cell's fill or text color to indicate its relative value. Formats that change the appearance of a cell's contents by applying rules are called 'conditional formats.' Excel 2008 lets you apply conditional formatting rules to Pivot Table cells, but unfortunately the formatting disappears when you pivot the Pivot Table. Creating a conditional format is a lot like creating a filter. In both cases, you create rules to indicate which cells you want to be affected by your action.
To apply a conditional format to Excel Pivot Table cells, you select the cells, and then click Format>Conditional Formatting, and Excel displays a dialog box indicating that your conditional formats will not be preserved. Anytime that you refresh the Pivot Table data or change this layout, all the formatting will go away. I am using this as an example to show what you can do if you want to do this sort of analysis. So I will click OK, and go right on ahead. You can use the controls in the Conditional Formatting dialog box to define your first conditional format.
You can have up to three conditional formats per cell in Excel 2008. In this case, I want to have any cell that contains a value greater than 975 to be formatted in green, any cell with a value between 850 and 975 inclusive to be formatted in yellow, and any cell with a value below 850 to be formatted in red. So to create the first conditional format, that's based on the cell value, Cell Value is greater than 975.
So there is my rule. I can now define the format that I want to apply. Click the Format button. Click Patterns, which has the fill colors, and select green. Click OK and I have created my first rule. To create a second rule for the same cell, I just click the Add button and go through the same procedure. In this case, I want to apply yellow to any cell with the value between 850 and 975. Format>Patterns is still selected, and I click yellow and OK. Final rule, click Add, and I am looking for any value below, less than, 850 and I will apply the format of red.
While I have the Conditional Formatting dialog box open, I would like to show a few other things that you can do with conditional formats. If you want to edit a conditional format, you can just change the rule by clicking a new comparison operation and changing the operators. There can either be one, in the case of greater than or less than, or two in the case of between. Then to edit the format, just click the Format button and make any changes you like. If you want to delete a conditional formatting rule, you can click anywhere in the rule and click Delete, but now that I have created my conditional formatting rules for these cells, I will click OK to apply them.
And there they are. One real world example of how to use conditional formats with Pivot Table data is to create a dashboard that draws data from the Pivot Table using GetPivotData formulas. Then instead of applying the conditional formatting directly to the Pivot Table, you can apply the conditional formatting rules to cells that draw data from the Pivot Table. So regardless of how you reorganize your data within the Pivot Table, those conditional formats and summaries will remain in place. Now just to show what will happen if I pivot the Pivot Table, I will move Year to here, and the conditional formatting goes away.
Applying a simple rule based conditional format can make it much easier to interpret your Pivot Table data. All you need to do is determine the criteria that reflect the data you want to highlight.
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