Conditional Formatting (CF) is one of the most powerful tools in Excel for visualizing data. Because CF can use formulas as input to the CF process, the ability to create formulas based on different data visualization requirements is important. In this demonstration, the goal is to highlight values in a numeric range that are clostest to the average of that range. So, we first make the range dynamic with the following defined name formula.

NumRange =OFFSET(Sheet1!$A$1,1,,COUNTA(Sheet1!$A:$A)-1)

Next, we use that range to make an array of the absolute differences of each value of the range from the average.

ABS_Range =ABS(NumRange-AVERAGE(NumRange))

We can then define a cell for the number of values to highlight.

N_Values =$B$2

The heavy work is done by the next formula, which creates an array of the N values to be higlighted.

Num_Array=INDEX(NumRange,N(IF(1,TRANSPOSE(MATCH(SMALL(ABS_Range,ROW(

INDIRECT(“1:”&N_Values))),ABS_Range,0)))))

This formula returns the position of each smallest deviation in the 2^{nd} argument of the INDEX function, which then returns the values corresponding to those deviations. The use of the formula syntax needed to do this with the INDEX function is explained at the following link.

https://excelxor.com/2014/09/05/index-returning-an-array-of-values/

This formula can now be used in the creation of the CF, where CF Formula is =SUM(N(A1=Num_Array)), starting at A1 and applied to all of Column A.

The result of this CF is shown below.

The example file can be downloaded here.