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: Colorizing Charts.

Colorizing Charts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 28, 2012)

If you have a pie chart with a large number of sections, getting unique colors for each section might be a problem. Or, perhaps your printer doesn't print colors exactly as they are on your screen so some colors which appear quite distinct on the screen will print out nearly the same on paper.

Don't despair—you can change the color of any individual section of a pie chart, or any other type of chart for that matter. For pie charts, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the "pie" so that it is surrounded by handles (little squares).
  2. Click again on the section you want to change. The handles will now surround only that section.
  3. Right-click on the section. Excel displays a Context menu.
  4. Choose the Format Data Point option from the Context menu. Excel displays the Format Data Point dialog box, with the Patterns tab selected. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Format Data Point dialog box.

  6. In the Area portion of the dialog box, select the color you want to use for the chart section.
  7. Click on OK. Excel updates your chart.

These steps can be easily adapted to any type of chart. The only difference is that you select the chart object (bar, point, what have you) in the first two steps instead of the pie section.

When I make a chart, I also like to apply this same process to chart titles. I like them to be the same color as the information in the chart to which they apply. This makes identification even clearer.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2826) 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: Colorizing Charts.

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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