Apply or remove cell shading

You can add shading to cells by filling them with solid colors or specific patterns. If you have trouble printing the cell shading that you applied in color, verify that print options are set correctly.

What do you want to do?


Fill cells with solid colors

  1. Select the cells that you want to apply shading to or remove shading from.

ShowHow to select cells, ranges, rows, or columns

To select Do this
A single cell Click the cell, or press the arrow keys to move to the cell.
A range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.

You can also select the first cell in the range, and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys. To stop extending the selection, press F8 again.

A large range of cells Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.
All cells on a worksheet

Click the Select All button.

Select All button

To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.

 Note   If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.

Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges

Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.

You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection. To stop adding cells or ranges to the selection, press SHIFT+F8 again.

 Note   You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.

An entire row or column

Click the row or column heading.

Worksheet showing row heading and column heading

 Row heading
 Column heading

You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

 Note   If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key a second time selects the entire row or column.

Adjacent rows or columns Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.
Nonadjacent rows or columns Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.
The first or last cell in a row or column Select a cell in the row or column, and then press CTRL+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).
The first or last cell on a worksheet or in a Microsoft Office Excel table

Press CTRL+HOME to select the first cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list.

Press CTRL+END to select the last cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list that contains data or formatting.

Cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner) Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END to extend the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).
Cells to the beginning of the worksheet Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+HOME to extend the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.
More or fewer cells than the active selection Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell (active cell: The selected cell in which data is entered when you begin typing. Only one cell is active at a time. The active cell is bounded by a heavy border.) and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.

 Tip   To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.


  1. On the Home tab, in the Font group, do one of the following:

Excel  Ribbon Image

  • To fill cells with a solid color, click the arrow next to Fill Color Button image, and then under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, click the color that you want.
  • To fill cells with a custom color, click the arrow next to Fill Color Button image, click More Colors, and then in the Colors dialog box select the color that you want.
  • To apply the most recently selected color, click Fill Color Button image.

 Note   Microsoft Excel saves your 10 most recently selected custom colors. To quickly apply one of these colors, click the arrow next to Fill Color Button image, and then click the color that you want under Recent Colors.

Recent colors option

 Tip   If you want to use a different background color for the whole worksheet, click the Select All button before you click the color that you want to use. This will hide the gridlines, but you can improve worksheet readability by displaying cell borders around all cells.

Select All button

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Fill cells with patterns

  1. Select the cells that you want to fill with a pattern.

ShowHow to select cells, ranges, rows, or columns

To select Do this
A single cell Click the cell, or press the arrow keys to move to the cell.
A range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.

You can also select the first cell in the range, and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys. To stop extending the selection, press F8 again.

A large range of cells Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.
All cells on a worksheet

Click the Select All button.

Select All button

To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.

 Note   If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.

Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges

Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.

You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection. To stop adding cells or ranges to the selection, press SHIFT+F8 again.

 Note   You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.

An entire row or column

Click the row or column heading.

Worksheet showing row heading and column heading

 Row heading
 Column heading

You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

 Note   If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key a second time selects the entire row or column.

Adjacent rows or columns Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.
Nonadjacent rows or columns Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.
The first or last cell in a row or column Select a cell in the row or column, and then press CTRL+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).
The first or last cell on a worksheet or in a Microsoft Office Excel table

Press CTRL+HOME to select the first cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list.

Press CTRL+END to select the last cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list that contains data or formatting.

Cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner) Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END to extend the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).
Cells to the beginning of the worksheet Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+HOME to extend the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.
More or fewer cells than the active selection Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell (active cell: The selected cell in which data is entered when you begin typing. Only one cell is active at a time. The active cell is bounded by a heavy border.) and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.

 Tip   To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.


  1. On the Home tab, in the Font group, click the Format Cells dialog box launcher.

Dialog box launcher in the Font group

Keyboard shortcut  You can also press CTRL+SHIFT+F.

  1. In the Format Cells dialog box, on the Fill tab, under Background Color, click the background color that you want to use.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To use a pattern with two colors, click another color in the Pattern Color box, and then click a pattern style in the Pattern Style box.
    • To use a pattern with special effects, click Fill Effects, and then click the options that you want on the Gradient tab.

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Verify print options to print cell shading in color

If print options are set to Black and white or Draft quality — either on purpose, or because the workbook contains large or complex worksheets and charts that caused draft mode to be turned on automatically — cell shading cannot print in color.

  1. On the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup group, click the Page Setup dialog box launcher.

Excel  Ribbon Image

  1. On the Sheet tab, under Print, make sure that the Black and white and Draft quality check boxes are cleared.

 Note   If you do not see colors in the worksheet, it may be that you are working in high contrast mode. If you do not see colors when you preview before you print, it may be that you do not have a color printer selected.

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Remove cell shading

  1. Select the cells that contain a fill color or fill pattern.

ShowHow to select cells, ranges, rows, or columns

To select Do this
A single cell Click the cell, or press the arrow keys to move to the cell.
A range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.

You can also select the first cell in the range, and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys. To stop extending the selection, press F8 again.

A large range of cells Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.
All cells on a worksheet

Click the Select All button.

Select All button

To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.

 Note   If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.

Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges

Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.

You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection. To stop adding cells or ranges to the selection, press SHIFT+F8 again.

 Note   You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.

An entire row or column

Click the row or column heading.

Worksheet showing row heading and column heading

 Row heading
 Column heading

You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

 Note   If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key a second time selects the entire row or column.

Adjacent rows or columns Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.
Nonadjacent rows or columns Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.
The first or last cell in a row or column Select a cell in the row or column, and then press CTRL+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).
The first or last cell on a worksheet or in a Microsoft Office Excel table

Press CTRL+HOME to select the first cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list.

Press CTRL+END to select the last cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list that contains data or formatting.

Cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner) Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END to extend the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).
Cells to the beginning of the worksheet Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+HOME to extend the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.
More or fewer cells than the active selection Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell (active cell: The selected cell in which data is entered when you begin typing. Only one cell is active at a time. The active cell is bounded by a heavy border.) and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.

 Tip   To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.


  1. On the Home tab, in the Font group, click the arrow next to Fill Color, and then click No Fill.

Excel  Ribbon Image

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Set a default fill color for all cells in a worksheet

In Excel, you cannot change the default fill color for a worksheet. By default, all cells in a workbook contain no fill. However, if you frequently create workbooks that contain worksheets with cells that all have a specific fill color, you can create an Excel template. For example, if you frequently create workbooks where all the cells are green, you can create a template to simplify this task. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new, blank worksheet.
  2. Click the Select All button, to select the whole worksheet.

Select All button

  1. On the Home tab, in the Font group, click the arrow next to Fill Color Button image, and then select the color that you want.

Tip    When you change the fill colors of the cells on a worksheet, the gridlines can become difficult to see. To make the gridlines stand out on the screen, you can experiment with border and line styles. These settings are located on the Home tab, in the Font group. To apply borders to your worksheet, select the entire worksheet, click the arrow next to Borders Button image, and then click All Borders.

  1. On the File tab, click Save As.
  2. In the File name box, type the name that you want to use for the template.
  3. In the Save as type box, click Excel Template, click Save, and then close the worksheet.

The template is automatically placed in the Templates folder to make sure that it will be available when you want to use it to create a new workbook.

  1. To open a new workbook based on the template, do the following:
    1. On the File tab, click New.
    2. Under Available Templates, click My templates.
    3. In the New dialog box, under Personal Templates, click the template that you just created.

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Applies to:
Excel 2010