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Creating 3-D Formatting for a Cell

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Creating 3-D Formatting for a Cell.

Do you want the formatting of a cell to "stand out" from the surrounding cells? It's rather easy to do, once you understand how to create the illusion of three dimensions. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell that you want to format.
  2. Right-click on the selected cell and choose Format Cells. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Patterns tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Patterns tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. From the colors available, pick the lightest gray color you can see. This forms the background for the cell.
  6. Display the Border tab. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Border tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  8. In the Style list of the Line area, click on the second-widest solid line.
  9. Make sure the Color drop-down is set to either Automatic or Black. (In most cases, these two settings result in a black color, which is what you want.)
  10. In the Border area, click the buttons for both the right border and the bottom border. (You could also click on the actual border locations in the preview area, if desired.)
  11. Using the Color drop-down, choose White. It will look like all the line styles disappeared, but don't worry—they are still there, and the second-thickest line style should still be selected.
  12. Click the buttons for both the left border and the top border. (Again, you could also click on the border locations in the preview area.) You shouldn't see anything in the preview area, since white-on-white doesn't show up well. However, the buttons for the left and top borders should show as selected.
  13. Click OK.

The cell you selected in step 1 should now look as if it is "raised" off the worksheet around it. You can accentuate the effect even more if you apply a background color to the cells that surround the one that you want to look raised.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3061) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Creating 3-D Formatting for a Cell.

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Comments for this tip:

Max    16 Oct 2015, 10:57
I have never wasted more of my time than following your 11 steps for a significantly 2d button.

Gazza    13 Jul 2015, 11:26
Well that does not work at all !
Excel 2003.
It does not look raised at all, and the white borders do not make any difference.

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