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: Understanding Fill Effects.

Understanding Fill Effects

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 30, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Excel is not a specialized graphics program, by any stretch of the imagination—it is a spreadsheet program. However, you can insert drawing objects which may be beneficial to the information you are trying to convey in the worksheet. You can apply a few fancy effects to your drawing objects when you fill them with a color. To see the available effects, follow these steps:

  1. Select the drawing object you want to modify.
  2. Click on the down-arrow next to the Fill Color tool on the Drawing toolbar. Excel displays a color menu.
  3. From the color menu, click on Fill Effects. Excel displays the Fill Effects dialog box.

You can use the tools in the dialog box to change how the filling in the drawing object is rendered. The tabs in the dialog box allow the following:

  • Gradient. This tab is used to modify the density of the color used in various parts of the drawing object. You should experiment with these to get the desired effect.
  • Texture. This tab displays many different surface textures you can use to fill your drawing object. There are some great marble, fabric, and wood textures provided with Excel.
  • Pattern. This tab presents many different patterns you can use in conjunction with whatever fill color you have used. Many of the patterns are reminiscent of the patterns you can use in designing your Windows desktop.
  • Picture. This tab allows you to pick a picture that is used to fill your drawing object. Depending on the picture you use, this can create some very interesting special effects.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2824) 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: Understanding Fill Effects.

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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