Official Color Names in VBA

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 17, 2022)

Excel uses a color palette consisting of 56 colors. You can see these colors if you display the Patterns tab of the Format Cells dialog box. When creating macros in VBA, you may want to refer to these colors, by name, using constants.

Unfortunately, Excel's VBA doesn't have constants defined for each of the 56 colors in the palette. The only colors defined, by name, are members of the ColorConstants class, and there are eight members of the class: vbBlack, vbWhite, vbRed, vbGreen, vbBlue, vbYellow, vbMagenta, and vbCyan.

In VBA you can use the ColorIndex property to define which color you want to use from Excel's palette. The problem is that ColorIndex is not a color; it is an index into the palette. Thus, a ColorIndex of 1 is the first color in the palette, 2 is the second, and so on. You can see this in action by looking at the sample code at this URL:

http://www.ozgrid.com/VBA/ReturnCellColor.htm

This code examines the ColorIndex property for a cell and returns a color name. The name returned, however, is not a constant for the color; it is only a description of what color the palette at that index appears to be.

If you want to set the color of a cell, you actually should use the Color property. This property allows you to use the eight VBA color constants mentioned earlier. It just so happens that if you use these Color property to set the interior color of a cell, you'll find that the eight named colors correspond to ColorIndex values of 1 through 8. The following macro illustrates this nicely:

Sub CheckColors()
    Dim arr8Colors As Variant
    Dim i As Integer

    arr8Colors = Array( _
      vbBlack, vbWhite, vbRed, vbGreen, _
      vbBlue, vbYellow, vbMagenta, vbCyan)
    For i = 0 To 7
        Selection.Offset(i, 0).Interior.Color = arr8Colors(i)
        Selection.Offset(i, 1).Value = Selection.Offset(i, 0).Interior.ColorIndex
    Next i
End Sub

This correspondence for the first eight values between Color and ColorIndex should only be taken as an artifact of history, dating back to the days when Excel only allowed you to use eight colors—the eight colors defined with VBA constants. If you want to specify some other color for a cell, you should use the RGB function to specify the Color property, as shown here:

Selection.Interior.Color = RGB(128, 64, 255)

The RGB function allows you to specify the red, green, and blue components of any color. Each component can range in value from 0 to 255.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2778) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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

Adding Page Numbers in Headers or Footers

While Word has a default format for page numbers, you can design and specify how you want them to appear in your ...

Discover More

Numbers in Base 12

Different professions use numbers in entirely unique ways. You may need to come up with a number that represents the ...

Discover More

Adding Many No-Width Optional Breaks

One of the special characters you can add in a document is the no-width optional break. Although originally designed for ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Maximum Length Limit for a Macro

Make your macros too long, and Excel may just refuse to run them at all. This tip explains what the limit is for macros, ...

Discover More

Selecting Visible Cells in a Macro

Many times you need to select just the visible cells before taking some action. It is helpful to know how to make this ...

Discover More

Using Named Ranges in a Macro

Named ranges are a great capability provided by Excel. You can define all sorts of named ranges in a workbook, but how do ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 eight more than 8?

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.