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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 14, 2017)

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Helpful Pop-up Screen Tips

Screen tips can be helpful to people reading your document on-screen. Using the technique described here, you can add ...

Discover More

Copying Cells to Fill a Range

Excel provides two really helpful shortcuts you can use to fill a range of cells, either horizontally or vertically. ...

Discover More

Adding Parentheses

Need to add parentheses around some word or phrase? Here's a quick macro that makes this simple edit in one step.

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Coloring Cells with Formulas

Easily seeing where all the formulas are in your worksheet can be handy. Here are some ideas on different ways you can ...

Discover More

Changing Font Sizes

Want to change the size of the font within a worksheet? Excel allows you to choose from a list of sizes, as well as ...

Discover More

Creating 3-D Formatting for a Cell

The formatting capabilities provided by Excel are quite diverse. This tip examines how you can use those capabilities to ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.