How to Change Color of Selected Cells in Excel 2007

Written by shannon kempe
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How to Change Color of Selected Cells in Excel 2007
Changing the colour of specific cells can turn an ordinary spreadsheet in to an extraordinary presentation. (number background image by kuhar from

Using colours to highlight cells on an Excel 2007 spreadsheet can prove useful for a variety of reasons. Coloured cells can represent totals, or let a businessman know what numbers put him in the black or leave him in the red. Different colours can also represent numbers above or below an average, or they can simply be used to define, distinguish or differentiate information on a spreadsheet.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Highlight the selected cells you wish to change colour. Hold the left mouse button down while running your mouse pointer over the selected cells, provided the cells are continuous. If the cells do not touch each other and are more selective, you can hold the Ctrl (Control) button as you click each cell you wish to highlight.

  2. 2

    Select the "Home" tab on the top tool bar. Underneath "Home" should be seven sections, with labels on the bottom of each section. The section names should be: "Clipboard," "Font," "Alignment," "Number," "Styles," "Cells" and "Editing."

  3. 3

    Click the down arrow next to the icon that looks like a paint can, located in the "Font" section. Select one of the "Theme Colors" or "Standard Colors" by clicking on the coloured box representing the colour you want. If you don't see the desired colour, click "More Colors..." for more standard and custom colour options. Once you have clicked on the desired colour, the cells you highlighted will change to the colour you selected.

  1. 1

    Highlight the selected cells you wish to change colour. Excel 2007 offers conditional formatting enabling you to set the cells to automatically change colour based on the rules you set.

  2. 2

    Select the "Home" tab on the top toolbar. Click on "Conditional Formatting" in the "Styles" section. A drop-down box will appear with options.

  3. 3

    Move your mouse over "Highlight Cells Rules" at the top of the drop-down box. Another box will appear to the side listing the most common rules used, plus an option to select "More Rules..." should you not immediately find what you need.

  4. 4

    Select "Greater Than..." or the rule most appropriate for your formatting. If you use "Greater Than...," a small box will pop up with the cursor automatically in a blank box on the left and colour descriptions in a box on the right of the little screen. The same box will appear for all represented rules, but with different titles for the purpose of the rule's function.

  5. 5

    Enter the value that highlighted cells should be greater than in order to change colour. Click the drop-down arrow next to the colour description box on the right, and select one of the predetermined cell formats, or select "Custom Format..." to create your own rules on how the cells should look. Click OK when you are done. Your cells will now change colour depending upon the number entered.

Tips and warnings

  • Ctrl+Z is a keyboard shortcut that will undo a colour choice if you don't like the end result.
  • All options under "Conditional Formatting" will enable you to create rules to change the formatting of a cell. "Highlighted Cell Rules" are the most commonly used and are the easiest to use. Other rules can become as complicated as you want to make them. Don't hesitate to experiment a bit with these rules, as they can really make an impression with others.
  • When highlighting cells, if you click a cell you didn't wish to highlight after you've made your selection, you will need to start over and highlight the cells again.

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