Changing Coordinate Colors

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 30, 2016)

Take a look at an Excel worksheet. See the column headers that appear above each column and the row headers that appear at the left side of each row? These help you to maintain your bearings within a worksheet. These coordinates normally appear as black text on a grey button background. At some point you may desire to change these to a different color.

Excel doesn't allow you to specify colors to use for the coordinates. It is possible for Excel to change the color itself, however. For instance, when you use filtering on data in a worksheet, Excel will show the row numbers in blue if the data is being filtered. Other than this, it is not possible to make a change within Excel.

You can make a change in Windows that will result in different coordinate colors. What Excel does is to use the color you specify within Windows for 3D objects as its coordinate color. How you change this particular color depends on the version of Windows you are using. To change this particular color using Windows XP, follow these steps:

  1. Get out of Excel.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your Windows desktop. (Make sure you right-click on the desktop itself, not on any of the objects on the desktop.) Windows presents a Context menu.
  3. Choose Properties from the Context menu. Windows displays the Display Properties dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Appearance tab is selected.
  5. Click on the OK button in the middle of the dialog box. (This is not the OK button to close the dialog box, but the one in the middle of the display area.) This action changes the Item drop-down list to 3D Objects.
  6. Click on the drop-down arrow in the Color control to the right of the Item drop-down list. You will see a palette of colors from which you can choose.
  7. Click on the color you want used by Windows for any 3D objects it displays.
  8. Click on OK (at the bottom of the dialog box) to save your change.

If you are using Vista, follow these steps instead:

  1. Get out of Excel.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your Windows desktop. (Make sure you right-click on the desktop itself, not on any of the objects on the desktop.) Windows presents a Context menu.
  3. Choose Personalize from the Context menu. Windows displays the Personalization dialog box.
  4. Click Window Color and Appearance.
  5. Click the Open Classic Appearance Properties for More Color Options link. Windows displays the Appearance Settings dialog box.
  6. Click the Advanced button. Windows displays the Advanced Appearance dialog box.
  7. Click on the OK button in the middle of the dialog box. (This is not the OK button to close the dialog box, but the one in the middle of the display area.) This action changes the Item drop-down list to 3D Objects.
  8. Click on the drop-down arrow in the Color 1 control to the right of the Item drop-down list. You will see a palette of colors from which you can choose.
  9. Click on the color you want used by Windows for any 3D objects it displays.
  10. Click on OK (at the bottom of the dialog box) to save your change.

Now, when you start Excel, the color of the row and column headers will match whatever you chose in the above steps. You should note, however, that this color change will affect other dialog boxes and controls displayed by other Windows programs, not just by Excel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2932) 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. ...

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