Categories
Microsoft Excel

Changing Excel’s Background Color: Formatting and Emphasis

When an Excel spreadsheet contains a lot of data, you can use various formatting techniques to direct a user’s attention to specific sections in a worksheet. Changing the background color of select cells can be a great way to do this. Alternately, you can change the fill color for all of the cells in a worksheet.

Even if don’t want to format cells using color, you can use patterns or fill effects.

Patterns can be more effective than a background color if you need to print your spreadsheet in grayscale or black and white. Fill effects can be used to add visual interest.

Let’s look at a few ways you can format cells in a worksheet.

How to Change a Cell’s Background Color

To change the background color of a cell (or group of cells), you can use Excel’s Fill Color control.

Here is how you’d change the background color in the price column in the example (below).

  1. Select cells C3:C8.
  2. Click the down-arrow next to the Fill Color control in the Home > Font group.
  3. Select a color from Theme Colors or Standard Colors.
Changing cells' background color with the Fill control

In the screenshot, I selected a light green color from Theme Colors in the Fill Color control. The Fill Color tool is covered Level 1 of our Microsoft Excel Training.

How to Add a Pattern or Fill Effect to a Cell

You can also use a pattern or fill effect to add emphasis to parts of your spreadsheet. These settings are accessible in the Format Cells dialog box.

Let’s format the range from the previous example using a pattern.

  1. Select cells C3:C8.
  2. Click the dialog box launcher in the Home > Format group (or press Ctrl + Shift + F).
  3. Select the Fill tab in the Format Cells dialog box and select properties from the Background Color:, Pattern Color:, and Pattern Style: areas according to your preferences.
  4. Click OK.
Changing cells' background color with the Format Cells dialog box

In the screenshot, I circled the dialog box launcher in the Home > Font group on the ribbon and selected 6.25% Grey from the Pattern Style: area.

To add a fill effect, click the Fill Effects… button on the Fill tab in the Format Cells dialog box, select your desired options, then click OK.

How to Change the Background Color for an Entire Worksheet

If you want to change the background color for an entire worksheet, the process is similar to the steps outlined above.

  1. Press Ctrl + A to select all of the cells in the worksheet.
  2. Click the down-arrow next to the Fill Color control in the Home > Font group.
  3. Select a color from Theme Colors or Standard Colors.

How to Remove the Background Color from a Cell

If you need to remove the background color from a cell (or group of cells), do the following.

  1. Select the cell(s) that you want to update.
  2. Click the down-arrow next to the Fill Color control in the Home > Font group.
  3. Select No Fill.

More Information on Formatting

I hope you found this article on changing background colors in Excel useful. If you’d like to learn additional formatting techniques, check out our complete guide to basic formatting in Excel.

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.