Add a gradient color to a shape

You have lots of options for adding gradients, from simple built-in gradients to ones you create yourself. The simplest way is to double-click the shape, and when Drawing Tools appears, click Drawing Tools Format > Shape Fill.

Click Gradient and select the one you want.

Gradient gallery opened from Shape Fill Drawing Tools Format

 Tip    To quickly apply this same gradient fill to other shapes, use the Format Painter.

Not good enough? You can take a couple more steps and apply a built-in gradient.

Apply a Preset gradient

  1. Click the shape, and when Drawing Tools appears, click Drawing Tools Format > Shape Fill.
  2. Click Gradient > More Gradients.
  3. Under Fill, click Gradient fill > Preset gradient and pick the one you want.

Format shape pane with Pre-set gradients gallery open

 Tip    Use these Preset gradients as a starting point for building your own gradient fill.

If the gradient is still not good enough, you can make a custom gradient, which has more complex steps.

Create a custom gradient

Before you start, let’s chat about gradient stops—the keystone to making gradient fills. A stop is the specific point where the blending of two adjacent colors in a gradient ends. Stops are added to or removed from the slider bar. You can change the stop location by sliding the stop or using the Position percentage for a precise position. Once you select a stop, you can use the other options to fine tune your gradient. Oh, and the max number of stops you can have is 10 with a minimum of 2.

Gradient slider with stops

To add a gradient, you click Add gradient stops Add gradient stop button. To change a gradient, click the stop on the slider that you want to change. And to remove a gradient, click Remove gradient stops Remove gradient stops button.

  1. Click the shape, and when Drawing Tools appears, click Drawing Tools Format > Shape Fill.
  2. Click Gradient > More Gradients > Gradient fill.

Gradient gallery opened from Shape Fill Drawing Tools Format

  1. Pick a Type from the list.
  2. To set the direction for the gradient, click Direction.

Format Shape pane with Gradient Fill option selected

For each of the fill colors that you want in your gradient:
  1. Click a stop on the Gradient Stops bar, and then click Color.
  2. Click a percentage in the Position box.
  3. If you want, adjust the Brightness or Transparency sliders.


 Notes 

  • To keep the direction of the gradient fill the same as the shape when you rotate it, check the Rotate with shape check box.
  • To create a fill effect of one color going from 100% opaque to 100% transparent, set the color for all the gradient stops to the same color value.

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Tell me more about gradients

A gradient fill is a shape fill that gradually changes from one color to another across the surface of the shape. You can apply a gradient fill to shapes, text boxes, and SmartArt graphics.

A diagram showing a shape with a gradient fill and the three colors that compose the gradient.

A shape fill that gradually changes between three colors

It can be a variation of one color as show above, or a blending of two or more different colors to create stunning effects like the examples below.

An example of a build-in gradient fill.

Preset Horizon gradient fill

An example of a custom gradient.

Custom gradient fill

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Applies to:
Excel 2013, Outlook 2013, PowerPoint 2013, Project Professional 2013, Project Standard 2013, Word 2013