Alternating Row Colors in Excel Without Table on Windows 11: A How-To Guide

Alternating row colors in Excel can help you quickly distinguish between rows and make your data easier to read. While you might think you need to create a table to get this effect, it’s actually possible to do it without one on Windows 11. In just a few simple steps, you can format your Excel spreadsheet with alternating row colors for a cleaner, more organized look. Ready to learn how? Let’s dive in!

Step by Step Tutorial on Alternating Row Colors in Excel Without a Table

Before we jump into the steps, let’s get a clear picture of what we’re about to do. We will use Excel’s Conditional Formatting feature to apply different colors to alternate rows. This feature makes it easy to apply formatting based on certain criteria – in our case, the row number.

Step 1: Select the Range of Cells

Select the range of cells where you want to apply the alternating colors.

When selecting your range, make sure to include all the rows you want to format. If your data might expand later, it’s a good idea to select a few extra rows just in case.

Step 2: Go to the ‘Home’ Tab

Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab on the Ribbon.

The ‘Home’ tab is where you’ll find most of the tools you need for basic formatting in Excel, including Conditional Formatting.

Step 3: Click on ‘Conditional Formatting’

Click on the ‘Conditional Formatting’ button in the ‘Styles’ group.

The ‘Conditional Formatting’ drop-down menu has a variety of options for formatting your data based on different criteria.

Step 4: Select ‘New Rule’

From the drop-down menu, select ‘New Rule’ to create your own formatting rule.

The ‘New Rule’ option allows you to create custom rules beyond the preset options available in Excel.

Step 5: Choose ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format’

In the ‘New Formatting Rule’ dialog box, select ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format’.

Using a formula gives you the flexibility to apply formatting based on specific conditions – like alternating row colors.

Step 6: Enter the Formula

Enter the formula: =MOD(ROW(),2)=0

This formula checks the row number and applies the formatting to even rows. The MOD function returns the remainder of a division, so when a row number is divided by 2, if the remainder is 0, it’s an even row.

Step 7: Set the Format

Click on the ‘Format’ button, choose your desired color under the ‘Fill’ tab, and press ‘OK’.

You can choose any color that you like for your alternate rows. It’s good to pick a color that’s not too bright or distracting.

Step 8: Apply the Formatting

Click ‘OK’ on the ‘New Formatting Rule’ dialog box to apply the formatting to your selected range.

After you click ‘OK’, you should see your selected range of cells formatted with alternating colors. If it doesn’t look right, you can always go back and adjust the formula or the formatting.

After completing these steps, your Excel spreadsheet will have beautifully formatted alternating row colors, making your data easier to navigate and analyze.

Tips for Alternating Row Colors in Excel Without a Table

  • Make sure to apply the formatting to the entire row range you’re working with, including any additional rows you might add later.
  • If you want to format odd rows instead of even, use the formula: =MOD(ROW(),2)=1
  • Experiment with different colors and shades to see what works best for your data and your eyes.
  • Remember that you can always go back and change or remove the formatting if needed.
  • If your data is already in a table and you want to remove the table but keep the alternating row colors, you can convert the table to a range and then follow these steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Conditional Formatting in Excel?

Conditional Formatting is a feature in Excel that allows you to apply specific formatting to cells that meet certain criteria or conditions.

Can I apply alternating row colors to columns instead?

Yes, you can apply a similar formula to format columns alternatively, but you would use the COLUMN() function instead of ROW().

Will the alternating row colors adjust if I add or remove rows?

Yes, the formatting will automatically adjust if you insert or delete rows within the formatted range.

Can I use this method on Excel for Mac or older versions of Excel?

Yes, this method works on Excel for Mac and most older versions of Excel as the Conditional Formatting feature has been around for a while.

What if I want to alternate more than two colors?

You can create additional formatting rules with different formulas to alternate more than two colors, though it will require a more complex formula setup.


  1. Select the range of cells for formatting.
  2. Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab on the Ribbon.
  3. Click on ‘Conditional Formatting’ in the ‘Styles’ group.
  4. Choose ‘New Rule’ from the drop-down menu.
  5. Select ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format’.
  6. Enter the formula: =MOD(ROW(),2)=0
  7. Set your desired color in the ‘Format’ settings.
  8. Apply the formatting by clicking ‘OK’.


Alternating row colors in Excel without a table might sound like a trick only a wizard could pull off, but as you’ve seen, it’s quite a straightforward process. With the steps outlined above, you can transform a bland spreadsheet into an organized, visually appealing masterpiece. It’s all about harnessing the power of Conditional Formatting and letting Excel do the heavy lifting for you. Remember, the beauty of this technique lies in its versatility – whether you’re working with a small dataset or a massive one, the steps remain the same. And the best part? Once you set it up, Excel takes care of the rest, ensuring that your data remains easy on the eyes, no matter how it grows or changes.

So, why not give it a go? Impress your colleagues, dazzle your boss, or simply enjoy the satisfaction of a well-organized spreadsheet. And if you ever find yourself scratching your head over this or any other Excel conundrum, just remember: there’s almost always a formula for that. Happy formatting!

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