How To Color Cells In Numbers Differently Depending On Their Content

Time required for learning: < 2 minutes

Sometimes when managing a big spreadsheet, it can come in handy to get a better overview of the status of certain items. For instance, in migrating domain names from one host to another it may be useful to have a spreadsheet where you keep track of the status of each domain name, whether its website has been moved, if email addresses have been transferred, etc. I recently found this very helpful myself.

It turns out there’s a relatively simple way to do this in all the big Excel-type applications. This tutorial will be for Numbers since it’s what I use – Numbers is perfectly fine for amateur number-tallying.

How To Color Cells Depending On Content In Numbers

This guide assumes you have a few standard status values like Yes, No, maybe a “-” or, as in my example, “N/A” for “Not Applicable”. After following the guide you will see how easy it is to color the cells depending on any text value contained within the cell, but for now I’ll assume these are the values.

Coloring cells in Numbers for OS X depending on their content (boolean, others)

An example spreadsheet with status cell values (Yes, No, N/A)

  1. Open your spreadsheet in Numbers for OS X.
  2. Select all cells you wish to color depending on their content. You can select cells by clicking and dragging. In the example above, you’d want to select cells B2-E6.
  3. How to find conditional highlighting in Numbers OS XWith all the cells selected, open the Format panel (A), select the Cell tab (B), and click Conditional Highlighting… at the bottom of the pane (C).
  4. The panel Conditional Highlighting has opened. Click Add a Rule… (D), select Text (E), and choose is… (F). This adds a rule to match a specific word, for example “Yes”.

    How to find conditional highlighting in Numbers for Mac OS X, Steps D-E-F

  5. Voila! Now you have a field where you can add your text/word and conditionally highlight the cell if it contains this word. In the example I simply typed “Yes” and selected “Green Fill” as the highlight from the dropdown.

    Conditional highlight rule in Numbers

  6. Repeat step 4 & 5 for all the rules you want to add.

All done!

Conditional highlighting in Mac OS X - Finished example

After adding some more rules this is what my chart ended up looking like!

Much easier to get an overview.

Did this teach you how to color cells depending on their content?

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