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: Changing Cell Colors.

Changing Cell Colors

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 25, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Excel includes a tool that allows you to quickly change the color of a selected cell. The Fill Color tool (available on the Formatting toolbar) has a small bucket and color sample on it. This tool actually has two parts: If you click on the left part (the part with the small bucket and color sample), then the color shown in the sample is applied to the cells you have selected. Note that the color of the font doesn't change, only the color of the cell background.

If you click on the arrow at the right side of the tool, you will see a color palette appear. To select a color, click your mouse on one of the small color squares. This is applied to the cells you have selected and appears in the color sample on the Fill Color tool.

Another method of changing cell color is as follows:

  1. Select the cells whose color you want to change.
  2. Choose Cells from the Format menu. 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. Using the color palette in the dialog box, select a cell color.
  6. Click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2757) 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: Changing Cell Colors.

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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