For example, given the sheet below:

A colourful sheet

I'd like the background colours of columns B-D to change automatically when I update the values in column A

Is that possible? I'm looking for a solution that will work with any colour, without preprogramming the sheet in some way to be aware of a fixed set of colours.

  • 3
  • I would say that it's a more specific case of the proposed duplicate question. I specifically want to use the other cell as a source for deciding the colour of another cell.
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 16:51
  • I don't see the difference. The referred Q&A include answers to apply conditional formatting by using a script and by using the built-in feature. Regarding the last, see webapps.stackexchange.com/a/53559/88163 Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 17:00
  • 1
    If you want to color of the conditional formatting to be pulled from the source cell, you're going to be in scripting land. Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 20:21
  • If you make that an answer (rather than a comment) I'll select it as the best answer.
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


Going to answer this one as the answer from the post: "Google Spreadsheets conditional formatting based on another cell's content" is outdated.

To answer your question: Highlight the Range that you need conditional formatting, then go to "Format > Conditional Formatting" and for each Color you will add a unique conditional format.

  • Apply to Range: the range you selected previously

  • Format Cells if: "custom formula"

    • Formula in plain English: Anything in the corresponding cell in column A on the same Row that contains the characters "Red", the formula would be:

    • And then just choose red background from the color picker in the conditional formatting sidebar.

    • Repeat this process for each color.

Example file here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sJtSrvFpKxmxUgzvrtIQzhYmxqeoR0FWVHpzNV5bIgQ/edit?usp=sharing

  • How, in your example scenario, would I go about getting the background of a row to be, say, blue?
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 20:28
  • Highlight Row, the right click > Conditional Formatting and would setup something like this: prntscr.com/a52j1w Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 22:40
  • Thanks @David Knapp. Is it possible to extend this method to colour an entire row rather than just one cell?
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 16:46
  • yes just highlight the entire row and then apply the conditional formatting rules to that row. Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 19:00

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