Change the color of text and background of cells – An Excel Font and Fill Color Complete Guide

Overview on Excel Font and Fill Color Change

Hello, here I am present to give you a complete guide on how you can work with Excel font color and background color of cells.

I will show you a handsome number of ways you can use to change the color of text and the background of cells.

You can take it as a complete guide on Excel Font and Fill color. If you know more ways(except the ones discussed here) to work with Excel Font and Background color of cells, then please put your valuable opinion in the comment section, I shall add your point in my next update of this post.

Some days ago, I was working with an Excel template, the template was using some “Green” text as a default.

It is easy to change the color of some text in an Excel workbook, you know how to do it. But it is possible that you don’t know how to use some color as default in an Excel workbook.

This is a guide that will help you to master all the techniques you have to know to work with the Font color and Fill color change in an Excel workbook.

Read More: How to Modify Theme Color, Font, & Effects & Create Custom Excel Theme

Changing the color of the text/font

There are a number of ways you can work to change the color of text and the background of cells in Excel.

Change the color of text – using built-in color codes

You might want to change the color of some text. It is the simplest way. Just select the text or cells where you want to apply a different color, then in the Home ribbon’s Font group choose the Font Color.

The Font Color command is a split button. If you click on the left part of the button, the existing color (in the below image existing color is Red) will be selected and will be applied to your text, if you click on the right part of the button, then a color palette will open a menu.

Change Font Fill Color in Excel

Change the color of the text

The first color in the palette is Automatic, it’s the default Black color. Then the Theme Colors, then the 10 Standard Colors. The Theme Colors and Standard Colors are built-in color codes, Excel has built these codes for you to use directly. You can also use your very own colors. How to do that? In the next section, you’ll get your answer.

Choose a color for your text. In the image, you see, I have selected Orange, Accent 6 color for my text Division, Products, and Sales. We’re done. We have made a different color for some of our text.

Read More: How to Lock and Unlock Certain/Specific Cells in Excel

Change the color of text – using custom color codes

You can work with custom colors, your very own colors. To do that, at the end of the color palette, you’ll find More Colors… option. If you click on the More Colors… option, the Colors dialog box will appear. The colors dialog box has two tabs. The first one is a Standard tab and another one is Custom.

In the Standard tab, you’ll find again the built-in color codes. To work with your own colors, you have to click on the Custom tab. In the Custom tab, you’ll find that you can work with two types of Color model: RGB and HSL.

I have the plan to write a detailed article on Color Model. Keep me in prayer that I can do that. 🙂

For now, just follow me, I use 39 for R(R for Red), 137 for G(G for Green), and 139 for B(B for Blue). These three numbers together generate a nice color like the image below.

Creating Custom Colors

Colors dialog box. Creating Custom Colors.

On the bottom-right corner of the dialog box, you will get the recently created color(New) and the Current color. You can compare the colors using this little window.

If you change the color model from RGB to HSL, you’ll get the equivalent color codes for HSL color model. See the image below.

Equivalent HSL Color Codes - RGB Colors

Equivalent HSL Color Codes.

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Change the color of text/font color – using the Format Cells dialog box

Did you use the Format Cells dialog box ever?

Format Cells dialog box is the ultimate dialog box to work with the formatting of cells and text. You will get all the options to format a cell or a text in this dialog box.

This dialog box has six tabs: Number, Alignment, Font, Border, Fill, and Protection.

To change the color of text, you have to click on the Font tab in this dialog box, in the Font tab, you will find a Color zone, there just click on the Automatic drop-down, you will find the same color palette you found when you clicked on the Font Color command in the Home ribbon.

You know how to handle this color palette. Rest on you.

Format Cells dialog box - Font tab

Format Cells dialog box – work with the same color palette

Change the color of text – based on another cell – conditional formatting

The below question was dropped in a forum. The solution is also there. Just to teach all the techniques on changing text color, I am putting this technique here in more detail.

Change text color based on other cell.

Changing text color of a cell-based on other cell values.

The problem is simple. In cell B1, there is some text, say the text is: Color Indicator. When the value of cell B8 changes, the text color of cell B1 also changes. Get an overview of the below table, how the color of cell B1 will change:

Change Color of Text in Excel

See how the Cell B1 text will change color based on the values of cell B8

Read More: How to Add or Remove Cell Borders in Excel

The steps to solve this problem are:

  1. In cell B1, type any text, I type in my worksheet “Color Indicator”.
  2. In cell B8, type any value, though typing any value at this stage is not necessary. But I type 10 in cell B8.
  3. Now select cell B1 again and click the Conditional Formatting command in the Home ribbon, a menu appears, click on the New Rule option in the list. A New Formatting Rule dialog box appears.
  4. In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, you see there is a window under the Select a Rule Type heading.
  5. In the window, select the last one rule type: Use a formula to determine which cells to format.
  6. In the field under Format values where this formula is true, type this formula: =AND($B$8>=1,$B$8<=10)
  7. Then click on the Format… button on the bottom right corner, Format Cells dialog box appears, choose the standard Green color in the color palette.
  8. The New Formatting Rule dialog box will look like the below image.
New Formatting Rule dialog box

The New Formatting Rule dialog box looks like this after applying the above steps.

If you now change the value of cell B8 between 1 to 10, the text color of cell B1 will change to Green. But if you enter a value other than between 1 to 10, nothing will happen. The reason is we have set only formatting rules for values between 1 to 10. We have to set the rule for other values too. The other rules are simple.

The rule to set color Blue for values between 11 to 20 is: =AND($B$8>=11, $B$8<=20). Just follow the above steps from 3 to 5 and in the 6th step, in the field put this formula: =AND($B$8<=11, $B$8>=20). In the 7th step, choose the Blue color. The New Formatting Rule dialog box will look like the below one:

New Formatting Rule Dialog Box

New Formatting Rule Dialog Box when you apply the next rule.

To apply a rule for the value greater than 20 is simple: =$B$8>=20. You don’t have to use AND function. As there is only one condition in the formula. Again just follow the above steps from 3 to 5 and in the 6th step, in the field put this formula: =$B$8>=20. In the 7th step, choose the Red color.

We’re done. Now input any value in the B8 cell, you will see the change in color in cell B1. I have selected value 125 in cell B8, you see the color is Red, Color Indicator text is now Red color.

Change Text Color based on values

Color changes when the value changes. Value 125 is greater than 20, so the text is Red now.

Change the color of text – Based on a Drop Down List –  Conditional Formatting

You can also change the color of text using a drop-down list like when you will select Red in the drop list, the text color will be Red when you will select Green, the text color will be Green, and so on. Let’s create it. For simplicity, I am going to use only two colors: Red and Green. You can use as many as you want. In a cell, say the cell is C1, I input a drop-down list. To create a drop-down list in a cell, you know what to do. If you don’t know then follow me:

  • at first select the cell where you want to create the drop-down list, in my case it is cell C1,
  • then click on the Data tab, Data ribbon appears, in the Data Tools group of this Ribbon, you will find the Data Validation command. Data Validation command is a split button, click on the upper part of the icon, the upper part is the Action part of this button,
  • Data Validation dialog box appears,
  • In the Allow drop-down list, select List,
  • In the Source field, type Red, comma, and then Green,
  • Click OK. You see a list is created in cell C1. Look at the image below.

Okay, now let’s create the rule. I want to change the color of some text, say the text is “Color Indicator”, it is set in cell C5. Now create a Conditional Formatting rule in cell C5 in the following ways:

  • Select cell C5,
  • Now in the Home ribbon, click on the Conditional Formatting drop-down, from the drop-down list, click on the New Rule option, New Formatting Rule dialog box appears,
  • From Select a Rule Type window select Use a formula to determine which cells to format option.
  • In the Format values where this formula is true field, type this formula: =$C$1=”Red” and then click on the Format button, Format Cells dialog box appears with the Font tab activated. Click on the Color drop-down, color palette appears, choose Red color in the color palette,
  • Then click OK, Format Cells dialog box disappears, again click OK, New Formatting Rule dialog box also disappears. We’re done with the Red color.
  • Create formatting formula for Green color in the same way.

When you’re done, your image should look like the following one.

Text color change drop down list conditional formatting

Select Red, the text will be Red; Select Green, the text will be Green


  1. Homework 1: Here goes a little homework for you. I made the formula for Red color, your job is to find out the formula for Green color.
  2. Homework 2: Create a drop-down list for colors Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Orange in a cell. Then change the text color of a cell on the basis of the drop-down list colors, the things we have done in this section.
Khan Muhammad Kawser

Khan Muhammad Kawser

Hello! Welcome to my Excel blog! It took me some time to be a fan of Excel. But now I am a die-hard fan of MS Excel. I learn new ways of doing things with Excel and share them here. Not only a how-to guide on Excel, but you will get also topics on Finance, Statistics, Data Analysis, and BI. Stay tuned! You can check out my courses at Udemy:

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