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6. Turn Negative Numbers Red with Conditional Formatting

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For a project manager, it is critical to know immediately if too much money is being spent somewhere.

Identifying items that are over budget lets you make adjustments before the whole project gets off track.

This can be difficult, especially on a project that lasts for months or years and has many line items and expenses.

In this video, you will highlight negative numbers in another color using conditional formatting.

This lets you see potential budget problem areas at a glance.

Conditional formatting changes the format of numbers or text in spreadsheet cells if a certain condition is true.

In this case, the conditional formatting will turn numbers red if they are negative.

To figure out how to use conditional formatting to turn negative numbers red, use the Help Menu.

In the search box, type “conditional formatting.”

Find the document explaining how to use conditional formatting.

To begin formatting, highlight the numbers in the “Net” column.

Change the numbers format to “accounting” so negative numbers are placed in parentheses.

Conditionally format the cells.

The cell range you highlighted should show in the window.

If it doesn’t, click the “range” box, and highlight the cells you will format.

The rule that triggers the formatting in this case is a negative number, or less than zero.

Enter “less than” and “zero” as the two parts of the condition.

The formatting style is the color of the font.

Choose the color you want to display when the conditional formatting rule is met.

In this case, turn the numbers red.

Click “done.”

Negative numbers in the Net column turn red!

Apply this same conditional formatting to the cells at the top of your sheet containing the totals, so you can see if your overall budget is on track or in trouble.

Now, it’s your turn: Use conditional formatting to format numbers in red if they are less than zero.

Apply the same conditional formatting to the totals and the remaining money at the top of the sheet.


  1. Use conditional formatting.
  2. Apply conditional formatting to totals and remaining money.