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I'm trying to conditioan format a bunch of cells that are strings by having cells with a - red and cells with a + green. However when just putting a + o - in the conditional formatting rules it says it is an invalid formula.

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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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

References
Apply conditional formatting rules - Docs editors Help

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