I'm using Apple Numbers in macOS, and utilizing its conditional formatting feature to compare some numbers, however I want to compare the numbers' absolute value.

The numbers I work on are estimations, and the sign signifies whether the value is an under or overestimation, but I need its distance from the actual value while comparing the two. I wanted to do it in conditional formatting to not to add more columns to the table. Is it possible in Apple Numbers?

  • Take a look at this Apple page on how to do conditional highlighting, see if it helps.
    – fsb
    Mar 8, 2018 at 21:45
  • @fsb, thanks. I already did conditional formatting. It seems like applying formulae is not possible.
    – bayindirh
    Mar 9, 2018 at 8:11

2 Answers 2


After research and trial & error sessions, I understood that using formulation in conditional formatting rules is impossible in Numbers. One can only use simple comparisons for formatting. Preparation of values for comparison is needed to be done on the table.

  • Oh wow, that's annoying! At least I can stop trying
    – v01pe
    Oct 11, 2019 at 6:29

I had the same issue with Numbers 5.0. I wanted to highlight a cell if it wasn't a consecutive number based on the cell above, eg. to highlight a gap. I found that I had to add a column with the formula eg $B1 = $A1 + 1, then highlight column A and add the condition rule for $A2 not equal $B1 then highlight.

This then set the rule for all cells in col A, and adjusted the target of the comparison. I then hid column B.

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