You can highlight data in cells by using Fill Color to add or change the background color or pattern of cells. Here's how:

  1. Select the cells you want to highlight.


    • To use a different background color for the whole worksheet, click the Select All button. This will hide the gridlines, but you can improve worksheet readability by displaying cell borders around all cells.

    • Select All button

  2. Click Home > the arrow next to Fill Color Button image, or press Alt+H, H.

    Font group on the Home tab

  3. Under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, pick the color you want.

    Font color picker

    To use a custom color, click More Colors, and then in the Colors dialog box select the color you want.

    Tip: To apply the most recently selected color, you can just click Fill Color Button image. You'll also find up to 10 most recently selected custom colors under Recent Colors.

Apply a pattern or fill effects

When you want something more than a just a solid color fill, try applying a pattern or fill effects.

  1. Select the cell or range of cells you want to format.

  2. Click Home > Format Cells dialog launcher, or press Ctrl+Shift+F.

    dialog box launcher in the font group

  3. On the Fill tab, under Background Color, pick the color you want.

    Cell fill and pattern dialog box
  4. To use a pattern with two colors, pick a color in the Pattern Color box, and then pick a pattern in the Pattern Style box.

    To use a pattern with special effects, click Fill Effects, and then pick the options you want.

    Tip: In the Sample box, you can preview the background, pattern, and fill effects you selected.

Remove cell colors, patterns, or fill effects

To remove any background colors, patterns, or fill effects from cells, just select the cells. Then click Home > arrow next to Fill Color, and then pick No Fill.

Font group on the Home tab

Print cell colors, patterns, or fill effects in color

If print options are set to Black and white or Draft quality — either on purpose, or because the workbook has large or complex worksheets and charts that caused draft mode to be turned on automatically — cells won't print in color. Here's how you can fix that:

  1. Click Page Layout > Page Setup dialog box launcher.

    Dialog box launcher in the Page Setup group

  2. On the Sheet tab, under Print, uncheck the Black and white and Draft quality check boxes.

Note: If you don't see colors in your worksheet, it may be that you're working in high contrast mode. If you don't see colors when you preview before you print, it may be that you don't have a color printer selected.

If you’d like to highlight text or numbers to make the data more visible, try either changing the font color or add a background color to the cell or range of cells like this:

sample of text color and cell background fill applied

  1. Select the cell or range of cells for which you want to add a fill color.

  2. On the Home tab, click Fill Color, and pick the color you want.

    the fill button and options on the Ribbon

Note: Pattern fill effects for background colors are not available for Excel for the web. If you apply any from Excel on your desktop, it won’t appear in the browser.

Remove fill color

If you decide that you don’t want the fill color immediately after you added it, just click Undo.

The button to undo an action

To remove the fill color at a later time, select the cell or cell range you want to change, and click Clear > Clear Formats.

use the clear format button to remove formatting

Need more help?

You can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community or get support in the Answers community.

See Also

Change the color of text

Need more help?

Expand your skills
Explore Training
Get new features first
Join Microsoft Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

What affected your experience?

Thank you for your feedback!