I have been working on a spreadsheet in Google Sheets that serves as a database of the hundreds of characters who appear in a novel I am reading (to help me keep track of them all). Column A contains the characters' names, while Column B contains their factions and/or loyalties. The data in Column B is color-coded, based on characters' most recent faction, using conditional formatting.

I have also been manually coloring characters' names in Column A to match the colors of their respective Column-B data. While this takes little extra effort or time, given the sheer number of characters I am adding each chapter, it does add up quickly. As such, I have been exploring the possibility of using conditional formatting to automatically color the data in Column A to match the corresponding data's colors in Column B. However, I have been unable to find any built-in formula that gets any form of text formatting from cell data, which is not terribly surprising.

Basically, I would like to know if there is any existing formula I could use to accomplish this: recoloring a cell in Column A based on the color of the corresponding cell in Column B. Be aware that the color it should be getting is the color of the Column-B text after existing conditional formatting is applied.

If not, what would an Apps Script for accomplishing this look like, and how would I go about implementing it? (I have no prior experience using scripts to add functions to Google Docs editors.)


1 Answer 1


You cannot use the formatting of a cell as input to a formula.

But, it is easy to extend the range of conditional formatting so that it applies to A as well as to B, while being based on the data from B.

For example, formatting the range A2:B according to the custom formula =LEN($B2) colors both A and B if the column B cell is nonempty.

More generally, if the column references in your conditional formatting formula are absolute (like $B above), the result will be the same for all cells within the same row within the formatted range.

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