I'm trying to conditionally format a bunch of cells containing strings. If the string contains either a - or a +, the cell should be highlighted in red or green, respectively. However, when just putting a + o - in the conditional formatting rule it says that the formula is invalid.

If I enclose the + or - with double or single quotes it does not work unless the cell literally contains "+" instead of +.

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1 Answer 1


Use ~ (tilde) to escape + (plus sign), = (equal sign) and also other special characters like * (asterisk) and ? (question mark) that are used as wildcards.

Conditional Formatting

Apply conditional formatting rules - Docs editors Help

  • This solution still works in 2023, thanks :)
    – DannyL
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 13:57

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