How to Use the ISERROR Function to Highlight Errors

If you want to highlight errors in Google Sheets, consider the ISERROR function. I’ll show you how to use it with conditional formatting to highlight an entire row when it spots an error in a single column.

Syntax of the ISERROR Function

The ISERROR function in Google Sheets has a simple syntax. Especially when compared to more complex spreadsheet formulas, this one just needs a single argument.


In this case, “value” means whatever you want to check. When you use it to highlight errors in your spreadsheet, you’ll want to use a cell as the value.

How to Highlight Errors in Google Sheets

If you want to automatically highlight a whole row when you spot an error in a column, you’ll use conditional formatting and a custom formula. Here’s where to find it.

First, highlight your whole sheet.

Click the top left cell to highlight the whole worksheet.

Then, click the “Format” menu and select “Conditional Formatting”.

Choose "conditional formatting" from the format menu.

Then choose “custom formula” under the section titled “format rules”.

Here, you’ll enter the formula:


In this case, the formula checks each cell in column B for errors. When it finds an error, it highlights the entire row where the error was found.

Use the ISERROR formula in the custom formatting menu.

You’ll notice that the process happens automatically.

How to Modify the ISERROR Formula

You can modify the results you get with conditional formatting by modifying the ISERROR formal. Note that the formula itself doesn’t change. ISERROR always checks its value for an error. You can, however, change what it’s checking.

In my example above, the formula checked each cell in column B. That happened because I used $B1 as the value.

What if you wanted to highlight individual cells with errors? Or what if you wanted to check multiple columns?

Let’s talk about both of these examples.

Highlighting Individual Cells with Errors

To highlight individual cells with errors, use the ISERROR function and enter your top left cell as your “value” argument.

You can use ISERROR to highlight any cell with an error.

This follows exactly the same steps as we used above, but instead of =ISERROR($B1) we will use the following formula:


That automatically applies the proper value to each cell in your spreadsheet and highlights only those cells with errors.

Using ISERROR in Multiple Columns

The most common change you’ll need to make is when you want to check multiple columns for errors. In that case, you’ll need to adjust the formula I used in my example above.

Instead of this, which checks only column B for errors:


You can use this formula to check multiple columns in Google Sheets:


Note that we’re nesting the ISERROR function inside the OR function. This allows us to manually enter additional columns.

Nest the ISERROR function inside the OR function to check multiple columns.

In short, nest the ISERROR function inside the OR function to check multiple columns for errors.


The ISERROR function turns out to be especially useful when you want to format your workbook. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

On a related note, I also covered how to use cell data to format an entire row in Google Sheets. That covers a similar topic in even more detail. Thanks for reading!

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