Changing the Comment Color

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 11, 2016)


Excel allows you to add comments to individual cells in a worksheet. These are handy for keeping notes pertaining to the contents of a cell. (How you add comments is discussed in other ExcelTips.) When you later move your mouse pointer over the top of a cell that has a comment associated with it, a small pop-up box appears that shows the comment.

The normal color for the comment box is a pale yellow, to supposedly mimic the appearance of the paper sticky notes that we all know and love so well. What if you don't like pale yellow sticky notes, however? In that case, you may be looking for a way to change the color Excel uses for the comment box.

The news here is both bad and good. It is bad because Excel doesn't have a way to change just the color of the comment box. The good news is that Excel relies on the system colors set in Windows to determine what color the comment boxes should be. Excel uses the ToolTip color setting for the comment boxes. If you want to change that setting, follow these steps if you are using Windows 7:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and choose Personalize from the resulting Context menu. Windows displays the Personalization portion of the Control Panel.
  2. Click Window Color at the bottom of the window. Windows displays the Color and Appearance options for your display.
  3. Click the Advanced Appearance Settings link. Windows displays the Window Color and Appearance dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Window Color and Appearance dialog box.

  5. In the Item drop-down list, select ToolTip.
  6. Click on the Color 1 indicator, to the right of the Item drop-down list. Windows displays a small palette you can use to select a color.
  7. Click on the color you want to use.
  8. Click on OK to close the Window Color and Appearance dialog box.
  9. Close the Color and Appearance options window.

If you are using Windows XP, the steps are different:

  1. Minimize Excel, along with all your other programs.
  2. Right-click on any area of the desktop itself. Windows displays a Context menu.
  3. Choose Properties. Windows opens the Display Properties dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Appearance tab is selected.
  5. Select Advanced in the lower right-hand corner. Windows displays the Advanced Appearance dialog box.
  6. Using the Item drop-down list, choose ToolTip.
  7. Click on the Color indicator, to the right of the Item drop-down list. Windows displays a small palette you can use to select a color.
  8. Click on the color you want to use.
  9. Click on OK.

Now your comment boxes will be the color you selected. In addition, since you changed the ToolTip color, all your ToolTips in Excel and all your other programs will be the same color.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3930) 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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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 3 + 8?

2017-03-10 10:27:13


Awesome tip! thank you so much for sharing

2016-09-02 11:59:03


M. Wilson's comment works with 2000. It is a shame that M$ continually finds ways to limit its users while shoving in time-wasting gimmicks like ribbon menus.

Is there a way to change the default formatting of these comments boxes? For some reason, my installation of Office 2000 running on Windows 7 Pro 64-bit SP1 thinks Bold 9pt is acceptable.

2015-09-30 03:26:02


Excel has gone backwards with their comment box..
In older Excel (2003) when i'm editing the comment box the font selector, sizes, and font/highlight colors are useable. Very handy to make bold words, or even other color in between the text.
The current way with "Format Comment" as described by M Wilson affects the whole comment box, i cant make special color or font in just part of the comment to make some words pop-up visually.

2015-05-27 15:52:38


Fantastic! It worked like a charm.
(Win7 + Excell 2007)

2013-11-04 06:33:33


This does not work for Excel for mac. Neither does trying to click on the edge of the comment box - all you get is the hand to move it. As well, the background colour on the tool bar is greyed out. Also I really want the pale yellow line connecting the comment to the cell to be another colour - it's too light and you can't see it.

2013-06-10 07:15:56

Roy Taylor

I use this coding to change the background colour (and auto size the comment box) dynamically dependant on some predetermined variables.

Public Sub AutoSizeComment(INT_colour)
Dim CmtCount As Integer, i As Integer

CmtCount = ActiveSheet.comments.Count
For i = 1 To CmtCount
ActiveSheet.comments(i).Visible = True
ActiveSheet.comments(i).Shape.Select True
With Selection
.AutoSize = True
.ShapeRange.Fill.ForeColor.SchemeColor = INT_colour
End With
With Selection.Font
.Name = "Arial"
.FontStyle = "Bold"
.Size = 11
End With
ActiveSheet.comments(i).Visible = False
Next i

End Sub

2013-06-03 12:04:31

Scott Renz

Thank you, M Wilson.

2013-06-01 14:29:36

M Wilson

Excel DOES provide a way to change comment box colors (and many other formatting options like font sizes):
-Create a comment box
-Click anywhere on the border line/edge of the box
-Right click and choose "Format Comment"
-Select the Colors and Lines tab
-Change comment box colors to your heart's content!
These same steps allow for many comment box formatting options found in the tabs.
PS: When you select the box border as above, you can also use the Excel Drawing Toolbar to make the fill color and other changes -- like increasing the shadow depth on the box or applying a gradient to the box color.

These formatting changes aren't universal and only apply to the comment box you are working on, so once I have my comment box formatting set I copy that blank comment into other cells as my master comment box and I also save it in a template.

2013-06-01 10:05:28

Dave McCurdy

How about font size, to say, 12pt?

Any tips on how to do this for Mac, Office 2011?

2013-06-01 08:11:37


The color of the comment can be change by selecting the comment and changing the background color on the tool bar.

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