I have a google sheet with one conditional formatting rule defined: enter image description here

This is the only formatting rule in the sheet: enter image description here

As you can see, Q3 is not obeying the rule. And when I test, neither is Q2. At some point I've inserted new rows at the top, but then I would expect my conditional formatting to show it is missing those cells and it's not.

What is wrong and how do I fix it? If it's not clear, the point is a whole row should be green if the Q cell is empty.

  • Consider sharing a publicly editable sample spreadsheet. Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:22
  • @doubleunary since the sheet was previously working, I wouldn't know how to reproduce it!
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:24
  • @doubleunary though possibly I could clone it and anonymise any sensitive data
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:34
  • That would help, so please do that. Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


Your conditional formatting custom formula rule should work OK. Since it fails to color rows where column Q appears blank, chances are are that column Q really contains something, for example a space character. Try this rule that will give true when column Q is blank or contains whitespace:

=trim($Q1) = ""

  • You have it backwards I think. It is coloring row 3 when the cell definitely contains text (15/05/2021)
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:23
  • The rule will return true when the cell in column Q is blank or only contains whitespace, and false when it contains any visible value. Try it as a regular formula in cell R1 to see how it works. When using it in a conditional format rule, make sure you apply the rule for a range that starts in row 1, such as A1:Q. Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:33
  • Remove other formatting rules you may have defined, or make them give a different color, so that you know which rule is coloring the cells. Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:40
  • As I said, this is the only formatting rule
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:41

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