How to Alternate Row Colors in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Alternate Row Colors in Excel

Alternating row colors in Excel is a great way to improve the readability of your data. It’s simple: you can use conditional formatting or Excel’s built-in table styles. Either method will help you distinguish different rows easily, making it a breeze to analyze your spreadsheet.

Step-by-Step Tutorial: How to Alternate Row Colors in Excel

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you alternate row colors in Excel, making your data more visually appealing and easier to read.

Step 1: Select Your Data Range

Highlight the cells where you want to apply alternating row colors.

By selecting the specific range, you ensure that only the relevant data gets formatted. This step is crucial as it sets the stage for all subsequent actions.

Step 2: Open Conditional Formatting

Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab on the ribbon and click on ‘Conditional Formatting.’

This option is found in the Styles group. Conditional Formatting allows you to apply specific styles based on rules you define, making it highly customizable.

Step 3: Choose New Rule

Click on ‘New Rule’ from the drop-down menu.

Selecting ‘New Rule’ will open a dialog box that offers various rule types. This is where you will specify how you want your rows to be colored.

Step 4: Use a Formula to Determine Which Cells to Format

Select ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format.’

This choice allows you to apply formatting based on a formula, giving you the flexibility to alternate row colors efficiently.

Step 5: Enter the Formula

Enter the formula =MOD(ROW(),2)=0 and click ‘Format.’

This formula checks whether the row number is even or odd. If it’s even, it applies the chosen format.

Step 6: Choose Your Format

Select the fill color you desire and click ‘OK.’

Choose a color that contrasts well with your text for better readability. Once selected, click ‘OK’ to apply the format.

Step 7: Apply the Rule

Click ‘OK’ in the New Formatting Rule dialog box to apply the rule.

Your selected formatting will now be applied to the even rows in your chosen range.

Step 8: Repeat for Odd Rows

Repeat steps 2-7 with the formula =MOD(ROW(),2)=1 for odd rows.

By doing this, you’ll apply a different color to the odd rows, completing the alternating pattern.

After completing these steps, your Excel spreadsheet will have alternating row colors, making it much easier to read and analyze.

Tips for Alternating Row Colors in Excel

  • Use Light Colors: Lighter shades make the text easier to read.
  • Consistent Formatting: Ensure the alternating colors are consistent throughout the document.
  • Use Built-in Styles: Excel tables come with built-in styles that already include alternating row colors.
  • Test Different Schemes: Don’t be afraid to test different color schemes to see what works best for your data.
  • Save as a Template: If you frequently use this feature, save it as a template for future use.

Frequently Asked Questions about Alternating Row Colors in Excel

How do I remove alternating row colors?

Go to the ‘Conditional Formatting’ menu and click ‘Clear Rules’ to remove any formatting rules applied.

Can I apply alternating row colors to an entire column?

Yes, but it’s more commonly used for rows since it helps distinguish between different data entries.

Is it possible to alternate row colors without using conditional formatting?

Yes, you can manually color every other row, but this is time-consuming and not practical for large datasets.

Will alternating row colors affect the performance of my Excel file?

Generally, no. However, extremely large datasets with extensive formatting might experience minor performance issues.

Can I use this feature in Google Sheets?

Yes, Google Sheets has similar functionality under the ‘Format’ menu with ‘Alternating colors.’

Summary of Steps

  1. Select your data range
  2. Open Conditional Formatting
  3. Choose New Rule
  4. Use a Formula to Determine Which Cells to Format
  5. Enter the Formula
  6. Choose Your Format
  7. Apply the Rule
  8. Repeat for Odd Rows


Alternating row colors in Excel can significantly improve the readability of your data. Whether you’re managing a large dataset or just looking to make your spreadsheet more visually appealing, following these simple steps will help you achieve a cleaner and more organized look. Remember, you can always tweak the colors and settings to better fit your specific needs. So go ahead, give it a try, and make your Excel data pop! For more advanced tips and tricks, consider exploring Excel’s other features and functions. Now that you’ve mastered alternating row colors, what will you tackle next?