These icons are so pretty, can I get them in green? [conditional formatting trick]

Excel Howtos , Learn Excel - 25 comments

One of our readers emailed this question recently,

I like the conditional formatting icons. I am trying to present some business data where going down is good. How do I get a green colored down arrow icon?

Essentially, Ms. CanIGetItInGreen wants this:


Unfortunately, Excel’s conditional formatting icons are not customizable. So we can’t get the green down arrows without some sneak. And sneak we shall.

Green color down arrows, red color up arrows – Tutorial

  1. Let’s say you have calculated a number (percentage change for ex.) in cell F4.
  2. In adjacent cell, write =IF(F4>0,”p”,”q”) This will return p if the value is positive and q otherwise
  3. Now change the cell font to wingdings 3. This will change the values p & q to up & down arrow symbols.


  4. Change font color to green.
  5. While keeping the cell selected, go Home > Conditional Formatting > New Rule
  6. Set up a rule to color the cell value in red when it is p.


  7. If you wish to see the % value, keep the adjacent cell (F4), else hide it.

Here is the final thing:


Learn awesome conditional formatting tricks

Conditional formatting is one of my most favorite areas of Excel. It has a ton of potential and offers a lot of creative freedom. Check out below tutorials to power up your conditional formatting mojo.

How would you turn the arrow green?

Would you use the above approach or something else? Please share your ideas in the comments section.



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My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.

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25 Responses to “These icons are so pretty, can I get them in green? [conditional formatting trick]”

  1. Why does the example look like the arrow and -16% are in the same cell? Following the instructions makes two different cell.

  2. SunnyKow says:

    Instead of using "p" and "q", I prefer CHAR(199) and CHAR(200) of the Wingdings 3 font.

    Now I only use Conditional Formatting with the Icon Sets. Just edit the formatting rules, choose the appropriate icons (or Reverse Icon Order) and you are good to go.

  3. Manish says:

    Hello Chandoo,

    I'm mostly a silent follower and an avid fan of your website. I found another way to change the icon as well.
    Link to screen shot

    • Manish says:

      and this is how we can change

    • Luke M says:

      But, the green arrow still goes up. Trick was to make the down arrow be green.

      • SunnyKow says:

        My guess is Manish have not click the OK button when he captured the screenshot 🙂 That is why the arrows are not updated. I am also using the same method for the conditional formatting.

        • FrankT says:

          Manish's reply is absolutely correct. There is no need for a workaround.

          Your problem is probably that you don't change the type in CF from percent to number.

          • SunnyKow says:

            Hi FrankT
            Thanks for your comment. There is no problem with my CF. It works perfectly. I was just commenting on Luke M reply (But, the green arrow still goes up. Trick was to make the down arrow be green) on why the 1st screenshot of Manish is incorrect 🙂

    • Chandoo says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Manish. Unfortunately, this method only changes the icon order, but wont get you the behavior mentioned in the post. See this image to know the difference.

      • SunnyKow says:

        Hi Chandoo
        The CF with Icons works perfectly for me. Am I missing something?

      • FrankT says:

        Your problem is probably that you don't change the type in CF from percent to number.

        There is no need for a workaround. Excel handles both, color and arrow direction.

      • Sunny Dsouza says:

        I agree with you the behavior for negative numbers or percentage needs to be green down arrow and for positive up arrow, can we apply it on single cell of a pivot.

  4. Mohd Manjur Alam says:

    Dear Friend

    unable to understand this method, please help me out

  5. Giancarlo says:


    The same result can be achieved with custom format without a particular font Arial Verdana Etc.
    All in a single cell and a single color

  6. Jimmy says:

    Thanks for this article. This is one of the greatest/funniest tricks I've seen. Finally, a use for the wingdings font!

    I'd like to expand my conditional formatting skills beyond simple color fills and gradients. This will be a helpful trick to pull out of the bag

  7. Giancarlo says:


    This is one of the greatest/funniest tricks I've seen.
    download attached showing details

    • Kathy says:

      Thank You Giancarlo!

      I l?ve playing with number formatting and so when I saw your trick(s), I was in heaven!
      You are my hero!

  8. Cap D says:

    .Kudos! God Bless you!

  9. […] Etwas mehr Praxisbezug hat der heutige Tipp, den ich vor Kurzem bei meinem großen Excel-Vorbild Chandoo entdeckt hatte und den ich dir nicht vorenthalten […]

  10. Jesse says:

    Simple tutorial yet I cannot get this to work in Excel 2013. After I change the font type to "Wingdings 3", I get no arrow. Can anyone help me out?

  11. Ben says:

    Very simple and usefull, thanks.

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