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Use Conditional Formatting to Show Task Status

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Using color to clarify or highlight information in a spreadsheet enables you to better visualize data, see the status of a particular task, and keep track of upcoming deadlines.

Conditional formatting lets you change the text style or background color of cells, rows, or columns if they meet certain conditions, for example, if they contain a certain word or a number.

In this extension, you will add conditional formatting to your spreadsheet by selecting a range of cells to format, adding and customizing formatting rules, and choosing colors that indicate task status.

Begin by opening your “Teaching a Class: Project Planning” spreadsheet.

Then, make a copy.

Highlight the range of cells you want to format -- in this case, the Status column.

Select Format, then Conditional Formatting.

Choose the option to Format cells if Text Contains a certain phrase.

Then, add the formatting criteria.

Formatting criteria are rules that describe how the cell, row, or column will change whenever it contains certain text or data.

This example describes rules for each of the project status options: Complete, In Progress, and Not Started.

When the status is complete, the cell will turn green.

When the status is in progress, the cell will turn yellow, and if the status in not started, the cell will turn red.

Type Complete in the Value or formula field.

Select the fill color green.

Then, apply the rule by clicking Done.


All of the cells labeled Complete are highlighted green.

Now, add a new rule.

Repeat the process, but this time apply the rule to cells that contain the text In Progress.

Select the fill color yellow.

This time, do not click done.

Instead, add another rule.

Assign conditional formatting for cells that contain the text Not Started.

Select the fill color red.

Now, click Done.

If you make a mistake or you no longer need a rule, delete it.

Good work!

Now, you can use color to see the status of each of your project tasks.

The ability to quickly and easily track your group’s progress on each task is very useful for a long-term, complex project.

You can use conditional formatting in any spreadsheet to see relevant data, identify patterns quickly, and keep an eye on upcoming deadlines.

Now it's your turn: open your spreadsheet, select the range of cells to format, customize the rules for conditional formatting, apply the rules to help visualize your data, and continue adding conditional formatting to all of your project statuses.

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Use Conditional Formatting to Show Task Status
Add conditional formatting to your group project spreadsheet.
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