can a range be made dynamic in Excel 2007/2010

Posted on 2012-03-28
Last Modified: 2012-03-29

Say I have a formula (=COUNTIF($F4:$I4,"<>")=0) for conditional formatting that applies to a well defined range (e.g., =$F$4:$I$34). That range as defined is fixed.

Is it possible to vary the ending row (harcoded as I$34) dynamically?

I am thinking that some cell A1=40 could contain the number of rows to process in the spreadsheet. and that the range could somehow pickup cell A1 (containing integer 40) and somehow update the range automatically. Something like =$F$4:$I$[stick in the value of cell A1 automatically somehow, so to affect the range to $F$4:$I$40 dynamically]

Appreciate your insights.

Thanks and best regards,
Question by:lyteck
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 37778962
The normal way to do this is using a named range and the OFFSET formula.  While this is OK, I prefer to use INDEX as it is non-volatile and so does not recalculate every time anything in the sheet changes.  It only has to recalc when the workbook opens, or when something really changes in the column in question.

So define a named range with the formula:

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and use this in your COUNTIF.
define name
LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 37778991
Should have said this assumes as you said that the value in A1 is the number of rows in the range in question.  The function works by defining a range that starts with cell you want to start with and ends with the last cells - INDEX gives you a cell from a specific row and col of a range.  It can also do other interesting things if you omit the row or column ref, but you can find that in the documentation or by looking at Daniel Ferry's brilliant article on this: here

Author Comment

ID: 37779094
Hi Andrew:

Thank you for the quick reply. I appreciate the detailed walkthrough though I must admit it is a little fuzzy for my current level of understanding of ranges. could you illustrate in my simple test spreadsheet? I have A1=40 and and I have a static range defined in the conditional formatting rules which I would like to make dynamic.

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LVL 81

Accepted Solution

byundt earned 250 total points
ID: 37780131
I suggest that you apply the Conditional Formatting to all of columns F:I, starting in row 4. Doing so won't increase your file size, but will assure that each row of data that you add receives the correct formatting.

Along with the above suggestion, I changed the formula for your first format condition to:
This is the one for the light yellow color, and the change means that it applies only if columns A through D on that row contain at least one datum, while columns F through I are blank.
LVL 17

Assisted Solution

andrewssd3 earned 250 total points
ID: 37780374
Hi - looks like byundt has put in the named range you need.  Defining named ranges like this in Excel is useful to know - the Name Manager on the Formulas tab is the place to do it - you can define new names there and edit or delete existing ones.  The names you define can then be used in formulas on the worksheet and can help to make your spreadsheets much more readable.

The only slight change I would make to the formula byundt used:
='Mutually exclusive fields'!$F$4:$I$4:INDEX('Mutually exclusive fields'!$I$4:$I$10000,'Mutually exclusive fields'!$A$1)

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, would be to make the INDEX use entire columns - this means that the range will extend to row 30 exactly:
='Mutually exclusive fields'!$F$4:$I$4:INDEX('Mutually exclusive fields'!$I:$I,'Mutually exclusive fields'!$A$1,1)

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The difference is because the first formula starts the INDEX range in row 4 it will count on 30 rows from there - the second one counts from row 1.  You can choose which one is more suitable.
LVL 81

Expert Comment

ID: 37781286
Although I created a dynamic named range, I didn't use it in my suggestion for Lyteck's problem. Each time I applied it to the effective range of the Conditional Formatting, I found it was immediately converted into the equivalent fixed range--e.g. $F$4:$I$43. For this reason, I applied the Conditional Formatting to the entire column, starting with row 4.

Dynamic named ranges are a great tool. They just weren't helpful in this problem.

Another approach that I could have used was to put Lyteck's data in a Table by selecting the data (with header labels) and using the Insert...Table menu item. Excel would then apply the formatting automatically as new rows of data were added to extend it.

LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 37781586
No that's right of course - I must admit I missed the reference to conditional formatting in the original post.  If I understand the requirement here (which I'm not sure I do exactly!) dynamic ranges aren't going to help because you'd have to drag down the conditional formatting manually anyway if more rows were added.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 37781690
Thank you both Andrew, Brad for your expertise. I think I understand the possible approaches and limitations from your back and forth discussions. I'll apply the conditional formatting to the entire column for now and keep in mind dynamic ranges to solve other problems.

Best Regards, Lyteck

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