Learn How to Highlight the Row and Column of the Active Cell in Excel with Conditional Formatting and VBA

highlight row column active cell Excel, achieve effect conditional formatting VBA

Are you looking to enhance your Excel skills and make your spreadsheets more visually appealing? One handy feature you can learn is how to highlight the row and column of the active cell. In this tutorial, I will guide you through two different methods to achieve this effect using conditional formatting and VBA.

Using Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to apply formatting rules based on specific conditions. By utilizing this feature, we can easily highlight the row and column of the active cell.

To begin, select the entire range of cells you want to apply this formatting to. Then, navigate to the “Home” tab and click on “Conditional Formatting” in the “Styles” group. From the dropdown menu, choose “New Rule.”

In the “New Formatting Rule” dialog box, select “Use a formula to determine which cells to format.” In the formula field, enter the following formula:


Make sure to replace “$A1” with the top-left cell of your selected range. This formula checks if the current cell’s row and column match the top-left cell’s row and column. If they do, the formatting will be applied.

Next, click on the “Format” button to choose the formatting style you prefer for the highlighted row and column. You can change the font color, fill color, and other formatting options. Once you’re satisfied, click “OK” to close the dialog box.

Now, whenever you select a cell within the chosen range, the entire row and column of that cell will be highlighted according to the formatting rules you’ve set.

Using VBA

If you’re comfortable with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) programming in Excel, you can also achieve the highlighting effect using a simple macro.

Start by opening the Visual Basic Editor by pressing “Alt + F11” or going to the “Developer” tab and clicking on “Visual Basic.” In the editor, insert a new module by clicking on “Insert” and selecting “Module.”

Within the newly created module, paste the following VBA code:

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
Cells.Interior.ColorIndex = 0 ' Reset all cell colors
Target.EntireRow.Interior.Color = RGB(200, 200, 200) ' Highlight row
Target.EntireColumn.Interior.Color = RGB(200, 200, 200) ' Highlight column
End Sub

This code will trigger whenever the selected cell changes within the worksheet. It resets the color of all cells and then highlights the entire row and column of the active cell with a light gray color (RGB value: 200, 200, 200). Feel free to modify the RGB values to suit your preferences.

After pasting the code, close the Visual Basic Editor and return to your worksheet. Now, whenever you select a new cell, the row and column of that cell will be highlighted accordingly.


By using either conditional formatting or VBA, you can easily highlight the row and column of the active cell in Excel. This feature not only enhances the visual appeal of your spreadsheets but also helps you navigate and analyze data more efficiently. Give it a try and take your Excel skills to the next level!


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