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How to Highlight a Row and Column Intersection with Exact Match in Excel

It is now easy to highlight intersecting row and column in excel. This can be done by using a simple formula that is based on the OR function together with conditional formatting. This article will take you through the procedure of how to highlight intersecting rows and columns in excel.

Figure 1. Final result

General syntax of the formula

=OR ($A1=row_val,A$1=col_val)

Explanation of the formula

The OR function plays a major role when it comes to helping us highlight the intersection point of a row and column. In the above example, we have the formula implemented as shown below;


Understanding how the formula works

For us to work with this formula to highlight intersecting rows and columns, we first need to apply conditional formatting relative to the active cell. In the case above, the active cell in our selection shall be B3. In this example, we shall use the formula below to highlight matching rows;


  • Notice that in our example, reference B4 is mixed and the column is locked. This is to ensure that a comparison is only made between column B and country in cell K5.
  • Also, note that the reference to cell K5 is absolute. This is so that changes are prevented when we apply conditional formatting.
  • When applied, our rule should return TRUE for those cells that have “Korea”.
  • The formula below shall help us highlight the matching column;


  • In this case, cell B4 is locked. Unlike in the previous case, here the row is locked while the column is allowed to be relative. This allows us to make a comparison between values in row 4 to month values in cell K6.
  • The cell K6 does not change during conditional formatting as it is absolute. In the above example, the formula will return TRUE for all the cells in the column where row is Apr.
  • To trigger the CF above, we are supposed to wrap the formulas above in an OR function.
  • The rule shall be triggered when either or both of the logicals bring back TRUE.

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Another blog reader asked this question today on Excelchat:
Here are some problems that our users have asked and received explanations on

I need a vlookup type formula to reference a column and row and return the value at that intersection. I need the formula to reference a given last name and match it to a column from colums D-O, then reference a given date and match it to a list of dates from row a10-a440. Then return the value or cell name at that intersection.
Solved by Z. S. in 16 mins
Hi, can we highlight A column row where the B column shows a match ?
Solved by X. H. in 16 mins
In column E starting at E5, lookup (hint: need an exact match) the appropriate life given the asset name using the range EUL Formula from row E5 must be copied up to row E17 and work for all cells from E5 to E17.
Solved by Z. H. in 20 mins

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