How to Use ISBLANK Function to Check If Cell Is Blank in Excel

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Certainly, Microsoft Excel is a popular tool for arranging and manipulating data. Now, what if you need to check for blank cells? With this question in mind, this article shows 5 ways of how to use ISBLANK function to check if cell is blank in Excel. In addition, we’ll also explore how to sum values if a cell is not blank.

How to Use ISBLANK Function If Cell Is Blank in Excel: 5 Examples

First and foremost, let’s consider the Car Information dataset in the B4:D15 cells containing the “Name”, “Maker”, and “Horsepower” columns respectively. Here, we want to use the ISBLANK function to check if a cell is blank in Excel. Therefore, let’s glance at each method in detail and with the necessary illustrations.

Dataset for how to Use ISBLANK Function If Cell Is Blank in Excel

Here, we have used the Microsoft Excel 365 version; you may use any other version at your convenience.

1. Checking If Cell Is Blank

First of all, let’s begin with a simple example of using the ISBLANK function, which returns a TRUE or FALSE value depending on whether the cell is blank or not.

📌 Steps:

  • Initially, go to the E5 cell >> enter the formula given below >> press the ENTER button.


Here, the D5 cell refers to the “Horsepower” value of “315”.

Returning TRUE of FALSE with ISBLANK function

Voila! The resulting image shows the function returning TRUE for the corresponding blank cells.

Highighting the cells with the value TRUE

Read More: How to Use SUMIF and ISBLANK to Sum for Blank Cells in Excel

2. Utilizing IF and ISBLANK Functions

Besides, we can combine the popular IF and ISBLANK functions to return a text message or leave them blank depending on whether the reference cell is blank. So, let’s see them in action.

2.1 Returning Text If Cell Is Blank

For instance, we‘ll use the IF and ISBLANK functions to check if the cell is blank; if true, then produce the string “Blank”, otherwise generate “Not Blank”.

📌 Steps:

  • Initially, move to the E5 cell >> type the following expression >> click the ENTER key.

=IF(ISBLANK(D5), "Blank", "Not Blank")

Formula Breakdown
  • IF(ISBLANK(D5), “Blank”, “Not Blank”) → checks whether a condition is met and returns one value if TRUE and another value if FALSE. Here, ISBLANK(D5) is the logical_test argument that returns FALSE which triggers the function to return Not Blank (value_if_false argument) otherwise it returns Blank (value_if_true argument).
    • Output → Not Blank

Returning Text If Cell Is Blank with IF and ISBLANK functions

Lastly, the picture below depicts the cells with the “Blank” text.

marking cells with the value blank

2.2 Leaving Blank If Cell Is Blank

By the same token, we can leave a cell empty instead of returning a text string.

📌 Steps:

  • To begin with, jump to the D5 cell >> copy and paste the equation below >> hit ENTER.

=IF(ISBLANK(C5), "", "Complete")

In this case, the C5 cell represents the “Date” “2-Jan”, since there is a date present, so the function outputs “Complete”, else it shows an empty cell.

Leaving Blank If Cell Is Blank using the IF and ISBLANK functions

Finally, the cells containing the blanks are marked in the screenshot below.

excel if isblank leaving blank cells blank

3. Combining IF, ISBLANK, and VLOOKUP Functions

Alternatively, we can apply Excel’s IF, ISBLANK, and VLOOKUP functions to look up the blanks present in the dataset.

📌 Steps:

  • At the very beginning, proceed to the C18 cell >> enter the expression into the Formula Bar >> press the ENTER key.

=IF(ISBLANK(VLOOKUP(B18,$B$5:$D$15,3,FALSE)),"Enter Horsepower",VLOOKUP(B18,$B$5:$D$15,3,FALSE))

Formula Breakdown
  • VLOOKUP(B18,$B$5:$D$15,3,FALSE) → looks for a value in the left-most column of a table, and then returns a value in the same row from a column you specify. Here, B18 ( lookup_value argument) is mapped from the B5:D15 (table_array argument) array. Next, 3 (col_index_num argument) represents the column number of the lookup value. Lastly, FALSE (range_lookup argument) refers to the Exact match of the lookup value.
    • Output → 315
  • ISBLANK(VLOOKUP(B18,$B$5:$D$15,3,FALSE)) → checks whether a reference is to an empty cell, and returns TRUE or FALSE.
    • Output → FALSE
  • IF(ISBLANK(VLOOKUP(B18,$B$5:$D$15,3,FALSE)),”Enter Horsepower”,VLOOKUP(B18,$B$5:$D$15,3,FALSE)) → becomes
    • IF(FALSE,”Enter Horsepower”,315) → Here, FALSE is the logical_test argument because of which the IF function returns the value of 315 which is the value_if_false argument. Otherwise, it would return “Enter Horsepower” which is the value_if_true argument.
    • Output → 315

📃 Note: Please make sure to use Absolute Cell Reference by pressing the F4 key on your keyboard.

Combining IF, ISBLANK, and VLOOKUP Functions

Eventually, the cells which don’t have the “Horsepower” value are shown in the figure below.

Utilizing IF, ISBLANK, and VLOOKUP functions to lookup blanks

4. Returning 0 If Cell Is Blank

Moreover, we can choose to return a 0 instead of a blank using the IF function; It’s simple and easy, so just follow along.

📌 Steps:

  • To start with, choose the D5 cell >> type the following formula >> click ENTER.


In this situation, the C5 cell indicates the “Inventory” value of “107”.

Applying IF and ISBLANK functions to return 0 instead of blank cells

Subsequently, the cells containing the value 0 are marked as shown below.

Returning zero if cell is blank

5. Applying Conditional Formatting with ISBLANK Function

For one thing, Excel’s Conditional Formatting feature can highlight blank cells within the selected range.

📌 Steps:

Applying Conditional Formatting

In an instant, the New Formatting Rule wizard appears.

  • Second, choose the Use a formula to determine which cells to format option.
  • Then, in the Rule Description enter the following formula.


  • Now, click on the Format box to specify the cell color.

Using ISBLANK formula

At this time, this opens the Format Cells wizard.

  • Third, click the Fill tab >> choose a color of your liking, for example, we’ve chosen “Orange Accent 2” fill color >> hit the OK button.

Applying Fill color

  • Consequently, the results should appear in the picture below.

Conditional formatting using ISBLANK function to color blank cells

Read More: How to Use ISBLANK Function for Conditional Formatting in Excel

How to Sum Values If Cell Is Not Blank in Excel

Last but not least, we can also employ the SUMIF function to get the sum of the values based on the not-blank condition.

📌 Steps:

  • At the start, copy and paste the following equation into the C14 cell >> hit the ENTER key.

=SUMIF(D5:D12, "<>", D5:D12)

Formula Breakdown
  • SUMIF(D5:D12, “<>”, D5:D12) → adds the cells specified by a given criteria or condition. Here, D5:D12 is the range argument that refers to the “Sales” column. Then, “<>” represents the criteria argument that represents the not-blank cells in the given range. Lastly, D5:D12 is the optional sum_range argument which indicates the values to sum within the range.
    • Output → $23,447

📃 Note: You can open the Format Cells dialog box by pressing CTRL + 1 and change the cell formatting to currency.

How to Sum Values If Cell Is Not Blank in Excel with SUMIF function

Practice Section

We have provided a Practice section on the right side of each sheet so you can practice yourself. Please make sure to do it by yourself.

Practice Section

Download Practice Workbook


To sum up, we hope this tutorial has provided you with helpful knowledge on how to use ISBLANK function to check if cell is blank in Excel. Now, we recommend you apply all this know-how in the practice dataset by downloading the practice workbook. In addition, feel free to comment and provide your valuable feedback.

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Eshrak Kader
Eshrak Kader

Hello! Welcome to my Profile. I completed my BSc. at Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology from the Department of Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering. Currently, I am conducting research & posting articles related to Microsoft Excel. I am passionate about research & development and finding innovative solutions to problems.

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