When you’re working with data in Microsoft Excel, it’s often useful to apply simple color codes. At a glance, this helps you identify values on a relative basis: small, large, and more. Fortunately, this is easy to do in Excel, and doesn’t require any manual analysis. Let’s learn how to add Color Scales in Microsoft Excel.
How to Add Color Scales in Excel
Imagine that you’re working with a list of numbers, ranging between 0 and 100. You want to be able to quickly visually identify large, small, and neutral values. Of course, this could be done manually. Or, you could sort the data from largest to smallest. But for data in random order, it’s a great idea to color-code the values using the Color Scales feature in Excel.
To get started, click and drag your cursor to select the range of values. In this example, you’ll find them in cells D1:D6. With the range selected, go to the Home tab. You’ll find this on Excel’s ribbon, where it’s the default display option.
Click on the Conditional Formatting dropdown button, which you’ll see on the right side of the Home tab. A variety of options will display, grouped into categories. The feature you want lies in the Color Scales section. Hover over it with your cursor to display a gallery of design options.
For example, the first choice is the Green-Yellow-Red Color Scale. This highlights higher values in green, lower values in red, and neutral values in yellow. Conversely, the Red-Yellow-Green Color Scale highlights high values in red, low in green, and so forth. The key is to understand your data and how best to format it.
When you’ve chosen a Color Scale option, simply click on its thumbnail. Excel will apply the chosen formatting.
As you can see, Color Scales are a great way to add visual aids to any Excel spreadsheet.