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Microsoft Excel
Automatically Shade Every
Second Row

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© 2009 DJH Training & Application Solutions Inc - Updated 2022

QUESTION:  When we convert a regular data range to a table, we can apply a table style that shades every second row. However, if our data is not converted to a table for a variety of reasons, sometimes we end up manually applying a fill colour and then when we add or remove rows, we have to start all over again.  Is there a better way?

ANSWER:  Yes, there is a *much* faster way! Use the MOD function in a conditional formatting formula:

  1. Select the range, for example A2:D25, to which you wish to apply the formatting, making sure that the active cell is on row 2

  2. On the Home tab > Styles group click the Conditional Formatting button > New Rule

  3. Select the Use a formula to determine which cells to format option in the Select a Rule Type: list

  4. Input the following formula:


   5. Click the Format button, select the desired format, then click OK twice


Let's break the formula down:

The MOD function divides a value and returns the remainder. For example, =MOD(4,2) would result in 0 as 4 divided by 2 has no remainder. However, =MOD(5,2) would result in 1. In this case, we are using MOD to divide the current row number ROW(), by 2 and return the remainder.

In "Excel language" 0 has a value of FALSE and anything greater than 0 has a value of TRUE. Because conditional formatting depends on TRUE to format, all odd-numbered rows will be formatted.

If you want to apply a different format to all even rows, add the following formula as your second condition:


By adding the NOT function, Excel will, in essence, "translate" the TRUE to FALSE, and apply formatting to all rows that do have a remainder - in other words, all of the even-numbered rows.

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