How to Change Excel Cell Color: A Step-by-Step Guide

Changing the color of a cell in Excel is a straightforward process. Simply select the cell you want to change, then click on the “Home” tab in the ribbon. In the “Font” group, click on the “Fill Color” button (it looks like a paint bucket). Choose the color you want from the dropdown menu and voila! Your cell will now be the color you selected.

After you change the cell color, the spreadsheet will have a more customized and organized appearance. Color-coding can help you quickly identify categories or priorities, making data analysis easier.


Excel, the powerful spreadsheet software from Microsoft, has become an indispensable tool for many businesses and individuals. For anyone who deals with data, Excel provides a way to organize, analyze, and present information efficiently. One of the simple yet effective features of Excel is its ability to change the color of cells. Why is this important? Well, visual cues can be incredibly helpful when you’re trying to navigate a large dataset or want to highlight certain information.

For instance, you might use a red cell color to indicate a deficit and green for a surplus. But cell colors aren’t just for accountants or data analysts; educators might use them to track student progress, and event planners could color-code tasks according to urgency. In short, anyone who uses Excel can benefit from knowing how to change cell colors to streamline their workflows and make their spreadsheets more readable.

Related: How to Add Developer Tab in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Change Excel Cell Color

Before diving into the steps, let’s clarify what we’re trying to achieve here. By changing the color of cells in Excel, we can add a visual element to our data, making it easier to read and understand at a glance.

Step 1: Select the Cell(s)

Click on the cell or drag across multiple cells that you want to change the color of.

Selecting the right cells is crucial. You can select a single cell by clicking on it or select multiple cells by clicking and dragging your cursor across them. If you want to select non-adjacent cells, hold down the CTRL key while clicking on each cell individually.

Step 2: Open the “Home” Tab

Go to the “Home” tab on the Excel ribbon to access the formatting options.

The “Home” tab is where you’ll find most of the tools you need to format your spreadsheet. It’s located at the top of the Excel window and is usually the default tab.

Step 3: Click the “Fill Color” Button

In the “Font” group, click on the “Fill Color” button, which looks like a paint bucket.

The “Fill Color” button is easy to spot thanks to its paint bucket icon. It’s in the “Font” group along with other formatting options like font style, size, and text color.

Step 4: Choose Your Color

Select your desired color from the dropdown palette. If you don’t see the color you want, click “More Colors” for additional options.

The dropdown palette has a range of basic colors, but if you need something more specific, the “More Colors” option will give you a much broader selection.


Enhanced ReadabilityColor-coding cells can make your data easier to read and understand.
Improved OrganizationColored cells can help you categorize and locate data quickly.
Visual AppealAdding color to your spreadsheets can make them more visually appealing, potentially making a better impression on others.


Overuse Can be ConfusingUsing too many colors or non-intuitive color schemes can make your spreadsheet harder to understand.
Printing IssuesColored cells may not print clearly, especially if you’re using a black and white printer.
Accessibility ConcernsNot everyone perceives color in the same way, so relying solely on color for organization can be problematic for those with color vision deficiencies.

Additional Information

When changing the color of cells in Excel, there are a few extra tidbits that could come in handy. For instance, did you know that you can use the “Format Painter” tool to quickly copy cell formatting, including color, to other cells? It’s like using a magic wand to instantly apply the same style across your spreadsheet. You’ll find this tool in the “Home” tab as well, and it can be a real time-saver. Another pro tip is to use conditional formatting. This feature allows you to set rules for cell color changes based on the data within the cell.

For example, you could set a rule that turns a cell red if the value is below zero or green if it’s above a certain number. It’s a dynamic way to visualize your data as it changes. Remember, while changing cell colors can enhance your spreadsheet, it’s important to use this feature thoughtfully. Stick to a consistent color scheme and be mindful of those who may have difficulty distinguishing certain colors.


  1. Select the cell or cells you want to change.
  2. Go to the “Home” tab on the Excel ribbon.
  3. Click the “Fill Color” button in the “Font” group.
  4. Choose your desired color from the dropdown palette or select “More Colors” for additional options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use custom colors?

Yes, by selecting “More Colors” you can create a custom color to use in your spreadsheet.

How do I apply the same color to non-adjacent cells?

Hold down the CTRL key while clicking on each cell to select multiple non-adjacent cells, then follow the same steps to change the cell color.

Is there a shortcut to change cell color?

Yes, you can use the keyboard shortcut Alt+H, H to open the “Fill Color” dropdown menu.

Can I change the color of a cell based on its value?

Yes, with conditional formatting you can set up rules to change cell colors automatically based on the cell’s value.

How do I remove the color from a cell?

Go to the “Home” tab, click the “Fill Color” button, and choose “No Fill” from the dropdown menu.


Knowing how to change Excel cell color is a simple yet powerful skill that can transform your spreadsheets from a jumble of numbers into a clear and colorful data story. Whether you’re organizing data, highlighting important figures, or just adding a bit of personality to your work, cell colors are an easy way to enhance your Excel experience.

Just remember the key points: select your cells, use the “Home” tab, choose the “Fill Color” button, and pick your color. With this knowledge, you’re well on your way to becoming an Excel wizard!