Highlighting sections of a spreadsheets exercise is a great way to provide guidance to students while they are completing the exercises of your course. All of the cells that students are editing in the exercise should be are highlighted. In the example shown, students are asked to fill in a formula in three cells in column I, so all three cells are highlighted.  

There are two ways you can add highlighting to your spreadsheet exercises. 

Meta sheet

The first is using the highlight field in the meta sheet. If you are using the same dataset throughout a set of exercises, and you have already specified styles like column widths or colors in the Golden copy, you can highlight fields in the meta sheet by specifying a single cell (F5), a range (F5:G6), or a list of ranges that are separated by semicolons (F5; F5:G6). This is the simplest way to add highlighting and has the least impact on exercise runtime. 

Sample sheet

The second way to add highlighting is to manually highlight the cells in the sample sheet. If you are using different datasets in the exercises of a workbook, and are relying on the sample sheet, instead of the Golden copy, to establish formatting like column widths or colors in your exercise, you will need to add “styles” to the data_selectors field. However, adding “styles” will overwrite and ignore anything specified in the highlight field of the meta sheet. You can add highlighting back in by adding it to the sample sheet. To do so, highlight the relevant cells in the sample sheet and use the custom option to specify the highlight color as #7ECCE2, which is the same color specified by the highlight field of the meta sheet.

When to not use highlighting 

Highlighting is only not recommended when exercises use conditional formatting. Since the highlighting will appear alongside the conditional formatting in these exercises, it will be less obvious which cells were highlighted by the highlighting and which cells were highlighted by the conditional formatting. As the focus of these exercises is conditional formatting, attention should only be drawn to the cells that are affected by the conditional formatting. 

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