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

How to Alternate Row Colors in Excel

Alternating row colors in Excel can make your data more readable and visually appealing. Here’s a quick guide: Select your data range, go to the ‘Home’ tab, click ‘Conditional Formatting’, choose ‘New Rule’, then select ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format’. Enter the formula =MOD(ROW(),2)=0, set your desired formatting, and click OK. Voilà!

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

Below is a detailed tutorial on how to alternate row colors in Excel. Follow these steps to make your data stand out with alternating row colors.

Step 1: Select Your Data Range

Highlight the rows and columns where you want to apply the alternating colors.

Ensure that you only select the range you need. This helps keep your formatting neat and avoids unnecessary changes to other parts of your spreadsheet.

Step 2: Go to the ‘Home’ Tab

Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab located at the top of your Excel window.

The ‘Home’ tab is your go-to place for most formatting options, making it easier to find the Conditional Formatting section.

Step 3: Click ‘Conditional Formatting’

In the ‘Styles’ group, find and click on ‘Conditional Formatting’.

Conditional Formatting contains various options to change the look of your cells based on certain rules, including alternating row colors.

Step 4: Choose ‘New Rule’

Select ‘New Rule’ from the drop-down menu that appears.

Creating a new rule allows you to specify exactly how you want your row colors to alternate, giving you full control over the formatting.

Step 5: Select ‘Use a Formula to Determine Which Cells to Format’

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

This option lets you apply a custom formula to decide which rows get colored, enabling more flexibility compared to predefined options.

Step 6: Enter the Formula =MOD(ROW(),2)=0

Input the formula =MOD(ROW(),2)=0 into the formula field.

This formula identifies every other row in your selected range, which will be the basis for applying the alternating colors.

Step 7: Set Your Desired Formatting

Click the ‘Format’ button and choose your preferred background color, then click OK.

Here, you can select any color you like to make your rows stand out. Feel free to experiment with different shades to find what works best for your data.

Step 8: Click OK to Apply

Click OK again to apply the rule to your selected range.

Your alternating row colors should now be visible, making it easier to read and analyze your data.

After completing these steps, your spreadsheet will have alternating row colors applied to the selected range, enhancing both its readability and aesthetics.

Tips for How to Alternate Row Colors in Excel

  1. Use Light Colors: Light pastel colors are often best for alternating rows as they improve readability without being too distracting.
  2. Check Print Preview: Always check the Print Preview to ensure the alternating colors look good on paper as they do on screen.
  3. Reapply When Adding Rows: If you add new rows to your table, you may need to reapply the conditional formatting to maintain the alternating color pattern.
  4. Save as Template: If you frequently use alternating row colors, save your formatted table as a template for future use.
  5. Experiment with Patterns: Besides solid colors, consider using patterned fills for a unique look that can help differentiate sections of your data.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Alternate Row Colors in Excel

How do I remove alternating row colors?

Go to ‘Conditional Formatting’ under the ‘Home’ tab and select ‘Clear Rules’ to remove all conditional formatting from your selected range.

Can I alternate row colors in Excel for Mac?

Yes, the steps are similar: select your range, go to ‘Home’, click ‘Conditional Formatting’, then ‘New Rule’, and follow the same formula process.

Can I apply alternating colors to columns instead of rows?

Yes, use the formula =MOD(COLUMN(),2)=0 instead of =MOD(ROW(),2)=0 when setting up your conditional formatting rule.

What if I want every third row colored?

Modify the formula to =MOD(ROW(),3)=0 to apply the formatting every third row instead of every second row.

How do I keep alternating colors when sorting data?

To maintain alternating colors after sorting, use Excel tables (Insert > Table) as they automatically adjust the formatting.


  1. Select your data range.
  2. Go to the ‘Home’ tab.
  3. Click ‘Conditional Formatting’.
  4. Choose ‘New Rule’.
  5. Select ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format’.
  6. Enter the formula =MOD(ROW(),2)=0.
  7. Set your desired formatting.
  8. Click OK to apply.


Congratulations! You now know how to alternate row colors in Excel. This simple trick can significantly enhance the readability and visual appeal of your data. Whether you’re preparing a report, organizing a list, or simply trying to make your spreadsheet less monotonous, alternating row colors can make a big difference.

Now that you have mastered this skill, don’t hesitate to explore more Excel features to further improve your data management and presentation. Remember, Excel is a powerful tool with countless functionalities waiting to be discovered. Happy Excel-ing!

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