Highlight EVERY Other ROW in Excel (using Conditional Formatting)

Watch Video – How to Highlight Alternate (Every Other Row) in Excel

Below is the complete written tutorial, in case you prefer reading over watching a video.

Conditional Formatting in Excel can be a great ally in while working with spreadsheets.

A trick as simple as the one to highlight every other row in Excel could immensely increase the readability of your data set.

And it is as EASY as PIE.

Suppose you have a dataset as shown below:Highlight Every Other Row in Excel using Conditional Formatting - Select Data

Let’s say you want to highlight every second month (i.e., February, April and so on) in this data set.

This can easily be achieved using conditional formatting.

Highlight Every Other Row in Excel

Here are the steps to highlight every alternate row in Excel:

  1. Select the data set (B4:D15 in this case).Highlight Every Other Row in Excel using Conditional Formatting - Seelct Data
  2. Open the Conditional Formatting dialogue box (Home–> Conditional Formatting–> New Rule) [Keyboard Shortcut – Alt + O + D].Highlight Every other Row in Excel using Conditional Formatting - New Rule
  3. In the dialogue box, click on “Use a Formula to determine which cells to format” option.Highlight Every other Row in Excel using Conditional Formatting - Use a fromula
  4. In Edit the Rule Description section, enter the following formula in the field:
    =MOD(ROW(),2)=1Highlight Every other Row in Excel using Conditional Formatting - MOD Formula
  1. Click on the Format button to set the formatting.Highlight Every Nth Row in Excel using Conditional Formatting - Set Format
  2. Click OK.Highlight Every other Row in Excel using Conditional Formatting - Click OK

That’s it!! You have the alternate rows highlighted.Highlight Every other Row in Excel using Conditional Formatting - highlighted data

How does it Work?

Now let’s take a step back and understand how this thing works.

The entire magic is in the formula =MOD(ROW(),2)=1. [MOD formula returns the remainder when the ROW number is divided by 2].

This evaluates each cell and checks if it meets the criteria. So it first checks B4. Since the ROW function in B4 would return 4, =MOD(4,2) returns 0, which does not meet our specified criteria.

So it moves on to the other cell in next row.

Here Row number of cell B5 is 5 and =MOD(5,1) returns 1, which meets the condition. Hence, it highlights this entire row (since all the cells in this row have the same row number).

You can change the formula according to your requirements. Here are a few examples:

  • Highlight every 2nd row starting from the first row =MOD(ROW(),2)=0
  • Highlight every 3rd Row =MOD(ROW(),3)=1
  • Highlight every 2nd column =MOD(COLUMN(),2)=0

These banded rows are also called zebra lines and are quite helpful in increasing the readability of the data set.

If you plan to print this, make sure you use a light shade to highlight the rows so that it is readable.

Bonus Tip: Another quick way to highlight alternate rows in Excel is to convert the data range into an Excel Table. As a part of the Excl Table formatting, you can easily highlight alternate rows in Excel (all you need is to use the check the Banded Rows option as shown below):

Highlight Altenate Rows in Excel - Banded Rows

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Sumit Bansal
Hello there! I'm Sumit Bansal, founder of trumpexcel.com and an Excel MVP. I started this website in 2013 with a simple goal: to share my love for Excel through easy to follow tips, tutorials and videos. I'm here to help you get the best out of MS Excel to save time and boost your productivity.

32 thoughts on “Highlight EVERY Other ROW in Excel (using Conditional Formatting)”

  1. Hi there, thank you your site is very helpful. I work with spreadsheets daily and I like to make my data to be easier on the eyes. Is there a modified formula to =MOD(ROW(),2)=0 so that the 1st row is blank and the shading begins on the 2nd row? Please let me know. THANKS!!!

  2. Sir, 19th March,2020.
    I appreciate your efforts to explain deeply each and every lesson.
    Generally,what I observed tell you, no one cares to go deeply.
    I hope,like me others may have also impressed while reading those articles.
    Once again thanking you and hope to receive more and more articles from you in future too.
    Kanahaiyalal Newaskar.

  3. If I understand correctly, this is a typo: “Here Row number of cell B5 is 5 and =MOD(5,1) returns 1”; Should this not be “… =MOD(5,2) returns 1”?

  4. Thank you for the site. It is one of the best site I found which caters to a novice to expert Excel user with simple and detailed step by step instructions with examples.
    I will definitely recommend it to colleagues and friends.

  5. Sir can you suggest / create any a default function in excel which will highlight row & column for every excel workbook by default without any application.

  6. Hi there, how do I highlight/shade/flag every 5th cell along a single row, and only the cells that contain a ‘1’. I have only found formulas highlighting every nth row down a column, and no examples for along a row. Can you help me?

  7. How would I do this to highlight every 24th cell -1 (because I don’t want the header accounted for)

    • Hello Brandy.. Thanks for commenting. To do this select all the cells and use the following formula in conditional formatting



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