Home » How can I set conditional formatting on a particular cell that depends on another cell’s value?

How can I set conditional formatting on a particular cell that depends on another cell’s value?


Complex conditional formatting can be achieved in Google Spreadsheets using Google Apps Script. For example, you could write a function that changes the background colour of an entire row based on the value in one of its cells, something that I do not think is possible with the “Change color with rules” menu. You would probably want to set triggers for this function such as “On Edit”, “On Open” and “On Form Submit”.

Documentation for setBackgroundRGB() function

UPDATE: Here is a Google Apps Script example of changing the background color of an entire row based on the value in column A. If the value is positive, use green. If empty, white. Otherwise, red. See the results in this public Google Spreadsheet. (You will have to be signed in for the script to run, but without signing in you can still see results).

function colorAll() {
  var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet();
  var startRow = 2;
  var endRow = sheet.getLastRow();

  for (var r = startRow; r <= endRow; r++) {

function colorRow(r){
  var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet();
  var dataRange = sheet.getRange(r, 1, 1, 3);

  var data = dataRange.getValues();
  var row = data[0];

  if(row[0] === ""){
    dataRange.setBackgroundRGB(255, 255, 255);
  }else if(row[0] > 0){
    dataRange.setBackgroundRGB(192, 255, 192);
    dataRange.setBackgroundRGB(255, 192, 192);


function onEdit(event)
  var r = event.source.getActiveRange().getRowIndex();
  if (r >= 2) {

function onOpen(){

The new Google Sheets allows you to do this, as described here. You have to first enable the new spreadsheets in your Google Driver settings as described in the article. Then you can select ‘Custom formula is’ from the conditional formatting options and enter any formula (do not forget to add the = prefix!). Cell references without $ prefixes are adjusted automatically when applied to ranges as you would expect.

It seems that support for migration from old to new is lacking – it only applies to new sheets and I found that only values could be copied from one to the other. Copying an entire sheet may be an option.

I wrote this web app, Color Code+, with Apps-Script, to cover most of the basic conditional formatting needs. Throw in some rules and it’ll spit out code that you can then paste in your spreadsheet, under ToolsScript editor…. (Help thread on Google forums.)

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