Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 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: Colors and Fonts for Worksheet Tabs.

Colors and Fonts for Worksheet Tabs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 24, 2014)


Excel is quite configurable in how information appears on your screen. At some time you may want to change the appearance of the worksheet tabs at the bottom of your workbook. Unfortunately, Excel allows very little customization of the way worksheet tabs are presented.

If you want to change the font used in a worksheet tab, you need to change the fonts used by Windows (not Excel) to displays information. You can right-click on your desktop, choose Properties, and then click on the Appearance tab. Changes you make on this tab will affect all programs running on your system, not just Excel.

If you want to change the color used to display a worksheet tab, you are completely out of luck if you are using Excel 97 or Excel 2000. If you are using Excel 2002 or Excel 2003 you can change the formatting for a tab by following these steps:

  1. Right-click on the worksheet tab you want to change. Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose Tab Color from the Context menu. Excel displays the Format Tab Color dialog box.
  3. Select a color to use for the tab.
  4. Click on OK.

It is interesting that if you set the colors for worksheet tabs and then open the worksheet in Excel 2000, the tabs don't show in color—they show in gray. Excel 2000 won't get rid of the colors, however. They will still be there when you later open the workbook in a version of Excel that supports the colors.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2625) applies to Microsoft Excel 2002 and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Colors and Fonts for Worksheet Tabs.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is five more than 3?

2016-08-04 09:05:09


when I right click I do NOT get a context menu (and hence no "Tab Colour" option). The only options I get are:

Move or Copy
Select All Sheets

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