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Check If a Cell is Empty in Google Sheets

In this article, I will show you how to use conditional formatting to check if a cell is empty in Google Sheets.

The Goal

The goal is to apply conditional formatting to see which cells are empty. For example, let’s say you have the exam grades for some students in your Google Sheets spreadsheet. However, a few numbers are missing.

Here is how to apply conditional formatting to highlight the empty cells.

Step 1

Start by selecting the cells that you want to check.

Step 2

Go to Format Conditional Formatting.

In the panel on the right, change the “format cells if” option to Is Empty.

Finally, click Done, and Google Sheets highlights the empty cells.

Important Note

This specific conditional formatting rule will not detect spaces.

In other words, Google Sheets will still highlight cells that contain only spaces even though they cannot be seen.

How To Detect Cells With Only Spaces

To set up the conditional formatting to detect cells with only spaces, you will have to change the conditional formatting rule.

Select the cells, and go to Format Conditional Formatting.

In the panel on the right, select the current conditional formatting rule, and change the “format cells if” option to Custom Formula Is.

Then enter the following formula into the formula box.


Note that the cell reference should point to the top-left cell of the selected range.

Finally, click on Done. Once you do, you will notice that Google Sheets does not highlight one of the cells that appears to be empty.

And that is because there is an extra space in this cell that you cannot see. Even though the cell appears to be empty, it isn’t. And this conditional formatting rule can catch that.

And so now you know how to write two different conditional formatting rules to highlight empty cells in Google Sheets!

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