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Excel is a spreadsheet program from Microsoft that you can use for different purposes, like creating a budget plan, income and expenditure records, etc. While creating data in an Excel spreadsheet, there might be cases when you need to highlight the rows with dates less than a specific date. In this post, we will see how to highlight rows with dates before today or a specific date in Microsoft Excel.

Highlight Rows with Dates using Conditional Formatting in Excel

We will show you the following two methods to highlight the rows with dates earlier than today’s date or a specific date:

  1. By using the Today() function.
  2. Without using the Today() function.

1] Highlight rows with dates earlier than today’s date by using the Today() function

The Today() function represents the current date in Microsoft Excel. If you type the =Today() in any cell and press Enter, Excel will show you the current date. Therefore, this method is used to highlight the rows with dates earlier than the current date. At the time I was writing the article, the current date was 11 November 2021.

The instructions for the same are listed below:

  1. Launch Microsoft Excel.
  2. Select the entire range of columns along with the rows.
  3. Apply Conditional Formatting to the selected range of rows and columns.
  4. Click OK.

Let’s see the above steps in detail.

1] Launch Microsoft Excel and create a new spreadsheet or open the existing one.

2] Now, select the range of rows and columns for highlighting the dates (see the screenshot below).

3] Now, you have to create a new rule via Conditional Formatting to highlight the rows with dates before today’s date. For this, click on the Home and then go to “Conditional Formatting > New Rule.” Now, select the Use a formula to determine which cells to format.

select which cells to format Excel

4] Click inside the box and then select the date in the first row. You will see that Excel automatically detects and fills its location inside the box.

select the date in first row

As you can see in the above screenshot, the formula that appeared in the box after selecting the date in the first row is =$B$1. This formula indicates the position of the date on the spreadsheet, i.e., the first row of column B. The $ sign in the formula indicates that row 1 and column B are locked. Since we are going to highlight the dates in different rows but in the same column, we need to lock only the column and not the row. Therefore, delete the $ sign before 1 in the formula. The formula will then become =$B1.

5] Now, type <Today() after the formula =$B1. When you use the Today() function, Excel will automatically determine the current date and compare the data accordingly. The complete formula should look like this:

=$B1<Today()

highlight dates before today in Excel

After that, click on the Format button and select your favorite color for highlighting the rows. You will find this option under the Fill. You can also select the Font style and border styles for the highlighted rows. When you are done, click OK. You will see your formatting style in the Preview.

6] Click OK in the New Formatting Rule window to apply the conditional formatting to the selected rows and columns. This will highlight the rows with dates before today’s date.

highlight dates earlier than today Excel

2] Highlight rows with dates earlier than today’s date or a specific date without using the Today() function

You can use this method to highlight the rows with dates before today’s date or a specific date. We have listed the instructions below:

  1. Launch Microsoft Excel and open your document in it.
  2. Write the reference date in a separate cell.
  3. Select the rows and columns.
  4. Apply the conditional formatting.
  5. Click OK.

Let’s see these steps in detail.

1] Launch Microsoft Excel and open your document in it.

2] To highlight rows earlier than a specific date, you have to write a reference date for comparison in a separate cell. In the below screenshot, I have written the reference date 10 October 2021 because I want to highlight dates before this date.

highlight dates earlier than specific date

3] Now, select the rows and columns and go to “Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule.” After that, select Use a formula to determine which cells to format. Now, click inside the box under the Edit the Rule Description and select the cell containing the date in the first row. After that, Excel will automatically fill the cell location. You have to delete the $ sign as you have done before. Now, instead of typing the =Today() formula, you have to type only less than symbol and then select the cell containing the reference date (see the below screenshot).

apply conditional formatting for dates Excel

4] Now, click on the Format button and apply to format the rows and columns as you have done before. When you are done, click on the OK button. Excel will show you the results by highlighting the rows before the reference date.

highlight rows before specific date Excel

This is all about how you can highlight the rows with dates earlier than today’s date or a specific date in Excel.

How do I autofill dates in Excel?

The AutoFill feature in Microsoft Excel lets you fill days, data, and numeric series easily. Simply type a date in a cell and drag it down. After that, Excel will fill the dates in increasing order automatically.

how to autofill dates in Excel

If you want to fill the dates with a certain gap between them, let’s say odd dates in a month, you have to type two consecutive odd dates in the two consecutive rows of a column. Now, select both the cells and drag them down. This will fill the cells with odd dates.

How do you highlight dates older than today in Excel?

You can highlight the dates older than today or a specific date in Excel with and without using the Today() function. We have explained both of these methods in detail above in this article.

Hope this helps.

Read next: How to create and run Macros in Microsoft Excel.

highlight dates before today or specific date