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 Patterns.

Changing Cell Patterns

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 21, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Excel allows you to easily change the background pattern used in the cell. In the early days of spreadsheets, patterns were the only way you had to differentiate one cell from another. To change cell patterns, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells whose background patterns you want to change.
  2. Choose Cells from the Format menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure you have the Patterns tab selected. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Patterns tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. Use the Pattern drop-down list to select any of the available patterns.
  6. Click on OK.

You should note that any pattern you select appears in the background of the cell, meaning that it appears behind any information contained within the cell. Thus, by creatively combining patterns, pattern colors, and other formatting options, you can create many, many different special effects.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2763) 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 Patterns.

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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