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Color Palette and the 56 Excel ColorIndex Colors

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Keywords:  color, colorindex, colors, colour, colours, palette

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Excel Color Index, coloring of fonts, cell interiors
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This page contains some VBA macros and User Defined Functions.  If you need assistance to installing either
please refer to Install a Macro or User Defined Function  on my Formula page.

Scope of the Color Palette: Each workbook has it’s own palette.  To change the default, change your book.xlt template for new workbooks.

How the color palette works (#palette)

The arrangement in XL97 differs from previous releases in that the colors are arranged from darker to lighter colors, but the Color Index values remain the same.

From HELP --> Index --> palette

Each Microsoft Excel workbook has a palette of 56 colors that you can apply to cells, fonts, gridlines, graphic objects, and fills and lines in a chart.  If you are using a color monitor, you can customize the shade and intensity of the colors in the color palette for each workbook.

When you change a color in the palette, it is changed for any element formatted with the color you changed, throughout the entire workbook.  To use the same custom color scheme in a set of workbooks, you can copy the color palette from one workbook to another.  For example, you can create a custom color palette that matches your company’s logo and image and then copy it into   the workbooks used in company presentations.  You can also replace the default color palette that Microsoft Excel uses when it creates a new workbook.

Copy color palettes between workbooks (#copy)

HELP --> Wizard --> copy palette
1 Open the workbook that contains the color palette you want to copy.
2 Switch to the workbook to which you want to copy the color palette.
3 On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Color tab.
4 In the Copy Colors From box, click the workbook that contains the color palette you want to copy.

Note: I have not had any desire to change my own colors so expect them to be unchanged.  Correct interpretation of the 56 colors in the ColorIndex is dependent upon the HTML wizard conversion on ColorIndex numbers.  The RGB values definitely match color swatches.

The names for colors appears to have a wide variance; I am trying to find what Microsoft generally calls them if they are not named in Excel.

The following colors has been used in Microsoft KB documentation probably for the first 16 colors:
Black, Blue, Cyan, Green, Magenta, Red, Yellow, White, Dk Blue, Dk Cyan, Dk Green, Dk Magenta, Dk Red, Dk Yellow, Dk Gray, Lt Gray

More confusion found in MS KB documentation
0 - Black, 1 - Blue, 2 - Green, 3 - Cyan, 4 - Red, 5 - Magenta, 6 - Yellow/Brown, 7 - White, 8 - Gray,
9 - Bright Blue, A - Bright Green, B - Bright Cyan, C - Bright Red, D - Bright Magenta, E - Bright Yellow, F - Bright White

I have had to change some colors to match Microsoft usage from what I thought was normal usage.  Assignment of name Gray may have to be changed.  Color6 and Color27 appear to both be Yellow on my system even after resetting colors (Tools --> Options).

Color Palette, Excel   (#chart)

To see your 56 colors (to bring up box in VBA) In XL95 Help --> index --> Colorindex property
In XL97/XL2000 VBE HELP (Alt+F11, F1) --> index --> ColorIndex property

It would be hard to compare the palettes between XL95 and XL97.  The XL95 palette is arranged by index number and the XL97 palette is arranged chromatically.

to see the palette in Excel
40 color palette is on a toolbar icon
56 color palette is available with Format, Cells, Patterns(tab)

in VBA
  Application.CommandBars("Fill Color").Visible = True   ' -- 40 colors
  Application.Dialogs.Item(xlDialogColorPalette).Show     ' -- 56 colors

This table was NOT generated by the Internet Assistant Wizard for Microsoft Excel.  You can find this add-in on "" -->

Appearance of table redone 2000-12-09 in Excel 2000, I display 32,760 colors, Excel shows only 56 colors at any time.  Following are the defaults.

Text within some cells can be viewed easier by selecting an area with the mouse.  zap colors   Reset (F5)   

interiorfont HTMLbgcolor= Red<Green BlueColor
Black[Color 1] #000000#000000 000 [Black]
White[Color 2] #FFFFFF#FFFFFF 255255255 [White]
Red [Color 3] #FF0000#FF0000 25500 [Red]
Green [Color 4] #00FF00#00FF00 02550 [Green]
Blue [Color 5] #0000FF#0000FF 00255 [Blue]
Yellow [Color 6] #FFFF00#FFFF00 2552550 [Yellow]
Magenta [Color 7] #FF00FF#FF00FF 2550255 [Magenta]
Cyan [Color 8] #00FFFF#00FFFF 0255255 [Cyan]
[Color 9] [Color 9] #800000#800000 12800 [Color 9]
[Color 10] [Color 10] #008000#008000 01280 [Color 10]
[Color 11] [Color 11] #000080#000080 00128 [Color 11]
[Color 12] [Color 12] #808000#808000 1281280 [Color 12]
[Color 13] [Color 13] #800080#800080 1280128 [Color 13]
[Color 14] [Color 14] #008080#008080 0128128 [Color 14]
[Color 15] [Color 15] #C0C0C0#C0C0C0 192192192 [Color 15]
[Color 16] [Color 16] #808080#808080 128128128 [Color 16]
[Color 17] [Color 17] #9999FF#9999FF 153153255 [Color 17]
[Color 18] [Color 18] #993366#993366 15351102 [Color 18]
[Color 19] [Color 19] #FFFFCC#FFFFCC 255255204 [Color 19]
[Color 20] [Color 20] #CCFFFF#CCFFFF 204255255 [Color 20]
[Color 21] [Color 21] #660066#660066 1020102 [Color 21]
[Color 22] [Color 22] #FF8080#FF8080 255128128 [Color 22]
[Color 23] [Color 23] #0066CC#0066CC 0102204 [Color 23]
[Color 24] [Color 24] #CCCCFF#CCCCFF 204204255 [Color 24]
[Color 25] [Color 25] #000080#000080 00128 [Color 25]
[Color 26] [Color 26] #FF00FF#FF00FF 2550255 [Color 26]
[Color 27] [Color 27] #FFFF00#FFFF00 2552550 [Color 27]
[Color 28] [Color 28] #00FFFF#00FFFF 0255255 [Color 28]
[Color 29] [Color 29] #800080#800080 1280128 [Color 29]
[Color 30] [Color 30] #800000#800000 12800 [Color 30]
[Color 31] [Color 31] #008080#008080 0128128 [Color 31]
[Color 32] [Color 32] #0000FF#0000FF 00255 [Color 32]
[Color 33] [Color 33] #00CCFF#00CCFF 0204255 [Color 33]
[Color 34] [Color 34] #CCFFFF#CCFFFF 204255255 [Color 34]
[Color 35] [Color 35] #CCFFCC#CCFFCC 204255204 [Color 35]
[Color 36] [Color 36] #FFFF99#FFFF99 255255153 [Color 36]
[Color 37] [Color 37] #99CCFF#99CCFF 153204255 [Color 37]
[Color 38] [Color 38] #FF99CC#FF99CC 255153204 [Color 38]
[Color 39] [Color 39] #CC99FF#CC99FF 204153255 [Color 39]
[Color 40] [Color 40] #FFCC99#FFCC99 255204153 [Color 40]
[Color 41] [Color 41] #3366FF#3366FF 51102255 [Color 41]
[Color 42] [Color 42] #33CCCC#33CCCC 51204204 [Color 42]
[Color 43] [Color 43] #99CC00#99CC00 1532040 [Color 43]
[Color 44] [Color 44] #FFCC00#FFCC00 2552040 [Color 44]
[Color 45] [Color 45] #FF9900#FF9900 2551530 [Color 45]
[Color 46] [Color 46] #FF6600#FF6600 2551020 [Color 46]
[Color 47] [Color 47] #666699#666699 102102153 [Color 47]
[Color 48] [Color 48] #969696#969696 150150150 [Color 48]
[Color 49] [Color 49] #003366#003366 051102 [Color 49]
[Color 50] [Color 50] #339966#339966 51153102 [Color 50]
[Color 51] [Color 51] #003300#003300 0510 [Color 51]
[Color 52] [Color 52] #333300#333300 51510 [Color 52]
[Color 53] [Color 53] #993300#993300 153510 [Color 53]
[Color 54] [Color 54] #993366#993366 15351102 [Color 54]
[Color 55] [Color 55] #333399#333399 5151153 [Color 55]
[Color 56] [Color 56] #333333#333333 515151 [Color 56]
Excel only recognizes names for Color 1 through 8 (Black, White, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan).  The colors 1-16 are widely understood color names from the VGA color palette.  Of the 56 colors only 40 colors appear on the palette.  The 40 colors names indicated on the Excel color palette (see below) are for descriptive purposes only. 

The following color pairs are the same color
  11 & 25,  5 & 32,  14 & 31,  8 & 28,  9 & 30, 13 & 29,  18 & 54, 20 &34,  7 & 26,  and   6 & 27.

The above table was created in Excel 2000 with help from the following macro, which includes Worksheet function HEX2DEC.  The table was converted to HTML using XL2HTML macro which (at least when done) does not convert embedded HTML code within a cell.

Sub colors56()
'57 colors, 0 to 56
  Application.ScreenUpdating = False
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual   'pre XL97 xlManual
Dim i As Long
Dim str0 As String, str As String
For i = 0 To 56
  Cells(i + 1, 1).Interior.colorindex = i
  Cells(i + 1, 1).Value = "[Color " & i & "]"
  Cells(i + 1, 2).Font.colorindex = i
  Cells(i + 1, 2).Value = "[Color " & i & "]"
  str0 = Right("000000" & Hex(Cells(i + 1, 1).Interior.color), 6)
  'Excel shows nibbles in reverse order so make it as RGB
  str = Right(str0, 2) & Mid(str0, 3, 2) & Left(str0, 2)
  'generating 2 columns in the HTML table
  Cells(i + 1, 3) = "#" & str & "#" & str & ""
  Cells(i + 1, 4).Formula = "=Hex2dec(""" & Right(str0, 2) & """)"
  Cells(i + 1, 5).Formula = "=Hex2dec(""" & Mid(str0, 3, 2) & """)"
  Cells(i + 1, 6).Formula = "=Hex2dec(""" & Left(str0, 2) & """)"
  Cells(i + 1, 7) = "[Color " & i & ")"
Next i
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic  'pre XL97 xlAutomatic
  Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

ColorIndex -- 56 Excel Colors [#colors56/#colorindex]

[Color 0][Color 0]  [Color 15] [Color 15]  [Color 30] [Color 30]  [Color 45] [Color 45]
[Color 1][Color 1]  [Color 16] [Color 16]  [Color 31] [Color 31]  [Color 46] [Color 46]
[Color 2][Color 2]  [Color 17] [Color 17]  [Color 32] [Color 32]  [Color 47] [Color 47]
[Color 3] [Color 3]  [Color 18] [Color 18]  [Color 33] [Color 33]  [Color 48] [Color 48]
[Color 4] [Color 4]  [Color 19] [Color 19]  [Color 34] [Color 34]  [Color 49] [Color 49]
[Color 5] [Color 5]  [Color 20] [Color 20]  [Color 35] [Color 35]  [Color 50] [Color 50]
[Color 6] [Color 6]  [Color 21] [Color 21]  [Color 36] [Color 36]  [Color 51] [Color 51]
[Color 7] [Color 7]  [Color 22] [Color 22]  [Color 37] [Color 37]  [Color 52] [Color 52]
[Color 8] [Color 8]  [Color 23] [Color 23]  [Color 38] [Color 38]  [Color 53] [Color 53]
[Color 9] [Color 9]  [Color 24] [Color 24]  [Color 39] [Color 39]  [Color 54] [Color 54]
[Color 10] [Color 10]  [Color 25] [Color 25]  [Color 40] [Color 40]  [Color 55] [Color 55]
[Color 11] [Color 11]  [Color 26] [Color 26]  [Color 41] [Color 41]  [Color 56] [Color 56]
[Color 12] [Color 12]  [Color 27] [Color 27]  [Color 42] [Color 42]    
[Color 13] [Color 13]  [Color 28] [Color 28]  [Color 43] [Color 43]    
[Color 14] [Color 14]  [Color 29] [Color 29]  [Color 44] [Color 44]    


1 53 52 51 49 11 55 56
9 46 12 10 14 5 47 16
3 45 43 50 42 41 13 48
7 44 6 4 8 33 54 15
38 40 36 35 34 37 39 2
additional 16 colors below are not shown on the 40 color toolbar palette but can be seen under Format, Cells, Pattern
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
Of the descriptive color names only those for index numbers 1 - 8 can be used in coding.
Black Brown Olive Green Dark Green Dark Teal Dark Blue Indigo Gray-80%
Dark Red Orange Dark Yellow Green Teal Blue Blue-Gray Gray-50%
Red Light Orange Lime Sea Green Aqua Light Blue Violet Gray-40%
Pink Gold Yellow Bright Green Turquoise Sky Blue Plum Gray-25%
Rose Tan Light Yellow Light Green Light Turquoise Pale Blue Lavender White
  *to be updated* Excel 2000 names colors below (font not patterns) ******** *** ***** **
Periwinkle Plum+ Ivory Lite Turquoise Dark Purple Coral Ocean Blue Ice Blue
Dark Blue+ Pink+ Yellow+ Turquoise+ Violet+ Dark Red+ Teal+ Blue+
The default ColorIndex numbers can be found in HELP -->. Index --> ColorIndex Property

The colors names indicated on the color palette are for descriptive purposes only.  Excel only recognizes names for Color 1 through 8 (Black, White, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan).

Hex equivalents used in HTML

 #000000       #993300       #333300        #003300       #003366       #000080        #333399       #333333      
 #800000       #FF6600       #808000        #008000       #008080       #0000FF        #666699       #808080      
 #FF0000       #FF9900       #99CC00        #339966       #33CCCC       #3366FF        #800080       #969696      
 #FF00FF       #FFCC00       #FFFF00        #00FF00       #00FFFF       #00CCFF        #993366       #C0C0C0      
 #FF99CC       #FFCC99       #FFFF99        #CCFFCC       #CCFFFF       #99CCFF        #CC99FF       #FFFFFF      
  Additional 16 colors below are not shown on the 40 color toolbar palette but can be seen under Format, Cells, Pattern
 #9999FF       #993366       #FFFFCC        #CCFFFF       #660066       #FF8080        #0066CC       #CCCCFF      
 #000080       #FF00FF       #FFFF00        #00FFFF       #800080       #800000        #008080       #0000FF      

Grayscale choices as seen in the Color Palette   (#grayscale)

1PaletteSample %RGB DecCalcFormula
2black  100 000000 00=(100-C2)*256/100
3gray-80%  80 333333 5151.2=(100-C3)*256/100
4gray-50%  50 808080 128128=(100-C4)*256/100
5gray-40%  40 969696 150153.6=(100-C5)*256/100
6gray-25%  25C0C0 C0192192 =(100-C6)*256/100
7white  0FFFFFF 256256=(100-C7)*256/100

You can use the Color Detector to see the RGB or Hex color values by using it to click here or on the color palette custom panel.

Click to view this page in grayscale [IE only], hit F5 to restore.  Background to White.  Read more about bookmarklets.

Modifications to Palette on a grayscale
Tools, Options, Color (tab), Select a palette color to be modified, modify (button)
on my Excel 2000 at this point Standard tab has 17 preselected white/ gray/ black choices at the bottom, choose any of them and you get a gray scale when you switch to the custom tab you should see the RGB values being equal and will change as you slide the choice selector.

Colors in Cell Formatting (#formatting)

The following colors may be used in formatting statements:  (see color table above)
    black, blue, green, cyan, red, magenta, yellow, white; and, Color1, color2, color3, ..., color56

The parts of the format (unless changed) are:
    positive numbers; negative numbers; zero; text

Custom Formatting (#custom)

For more information on formatting see your Excel HELP and my Formula page and particularly Custom Cell Formatting.
  -4   [>=5]General; [Red]-General; [Blue]General
  -1   [>=5]General; [Red]-General; [Blue]General
  0   [>=5]General; [Red]-General; [Blue]General
  2   [>=5]General; [Red]-General; [Blue]General
  4   [>=5]General; [Red]-General; [Blue]General
 5   [>=5]General; [Red]-General; [Blue]General
 10   [>=5]General; [Red]-General; [Blue]General
 txt [>=5]General; [Red]-General; [Blue]General
Entry Formatted Format -- GetFormat(cell) was used to display Format
 -7 - 7.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 -3 - 3.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 -2 - 2.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 -1 - 1.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 0  0.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 1  1.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 2  2.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 3  3   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 4  4   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 5 5.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 6 6.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 7 7.00   [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 42]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
 Test   Text:Test  [Blue][>=5]0.00; [Red][<=2]-0.00; [Color 45]General; [magenta]"Text:"@
Format for ... (each format is separated by a semicolon)
Positive Numbers(default); Negative Numbers(default); Zero(All other numbers); Text

Also see my Formula page (starting at #cellformat).  A generalized posting (2004-03-12) related to the above Cell Formatting, and to Conditional Formatting, and Event macros.  Two more examples of cell formatting:



Conditional Formatting is covered on it's own page and can be used for color banding (like greenbar paper) [also see].

Pastel colors for 50% backgrounds HTML (#chrome)

FEF5A8 C5F19A FFD8A0 F5DDB7 B9D0E8 D6BFD4 F79494 D3D7CF


Changing the Colors of your DOS session   (#DOS)

Color change is available at least in WinNT. 

Changing colors of your DOS window may or may not work for you.  I changed mine mainly in order to work with a specific package so that the wording is black on white.  This is easy to change but where there is no text the color will remain black.  (directions).  Color can also be changed in the DOS window with the color command (Color F0), which can be put into your Autoexec.bat -- to be effective you must reboot.  The screen can still turn black upon exiting an application but can be instantly reverted to white by typing Color.

The DOS assignments of the 16 colors (0-15)    (#OE)

The normal VGA assignments do not apply to Excel, but they do apply to older VGA monitors used on IBM mainframes and DOS color assignments.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
The assignments 0-15 are NOT those used by Excel ColorIndex
        10 11 12 13 14 15

The Colors supported by Internet Explorer and most browsers in alphabetical order (#HTML): 
AQUA,   BLACK,   BLUE,   FUCHSIA,   GRAY,   GREEN,   LIME,   MAROON,   NAVY,   OLIVE,   PURPLE,   RED,   SILVER,   TEAL,   white (white),   yellow     [Select area with mouse to read]

The above colors are supported in the HTML 3.2 standard but have not been universally accepted by all browsers.  In HTML the colors are Fuchsia: #FF00FF instead of Magenta; and Aqua: #00FFFF instead of Cyan.

The colors above and as fonts below are the choices of colors for Outlook Express and use the HTML names.  Colors 0-6, and 8 are very hard to see the difference looking straight at the screen on what would now be an old laptop.

0 Black, 1 Navy, 2 Green, 3 Teal, 4 Maroon, 5 Purple 6 Olive, 7 Silver,
8 Gray, 9 Blue, 10 Lime, 11 Aqua+, 12 Red, 13 Fuschia, 14 Yellow, 15 White
0 Black, 1 Navy, 2 Green, 3 Teal, 4 Maroon, 5 Purple 6 Olive, 7 Silver,
8 Gray, 9 Blue, 10 Lime, 11 Aqua+, 12 Red, 13 Fuschia, 14 Yellow, 15 White
0 Black, 1 Navy, 2 Green, 3 Teal, 4 Maroon, 5 Purple 6 Olive, 7 Silver,
8 Gray, 9 Blue, 10 Lime, 11 Aqua+, 12 Red, 13 Fuschia, 14 Yellow, 15 White
0 Black, 1 Navy, 2 Green, 3 Teal, 4 Maroon, 5 Purple 6 Olive, 7 Silver,
8 Gray, 9 Blue, 10 Lime, 11 Aqua+, 12 Red, 13 Fuschia, 14 Yellow, 15 White

You should be able to distinguish link colors, if you can’t, consider specifying your own default colors (or even overrides).  Click here to establish visited links below.

Possible link
color changes
  link     #0000FF
visited #FF00FF
  link     #0000FF
visited #FF00FF
    Your own
link colors
  unvisited link
visted link
unvisited link
visted link

You can change your own default colors for links: 
   In Internet Explorer use Tools, Internet, General (tab), Fonts. 
       (Not recommended but Accessibility button has option to override web page colors.)
   In Firefox use Tools, Options, General (icon on left), Fonts and Colors, OK.  (color override on same dialog.)

To temporarily override a web pages visited links color you can use a bookmarklet which would be in effect until you reload the page or hit F5 (Reset/Reload).  The bookmarklet Links Visited to RED is particularly useful when viewing Google search results.  (Try it yourself, and Reset with F5.  If you like it drag to links bar or a folder in your links bar, and do look at my bookmarklets page.)

Since changing the actual colors is not possible, and would be ill advised, I’m not going to attempt to see if it is possible to have eight distinguishable font colors for my laptop when within  Outlook Express usage. 

The Gamma can be changed for colors, and is somewhat equivalent from moving up or down when viewing the laptop monitor, or by adjusting the tilt of the monitor.  Most of problem distinguishing color pertains to fonts, backgrounds are okay and bold text better than plain text.  To adjust the colors on the monitor use:  Control Panel, Settings, Display (monitor), settings (tab), Advanced (button), Color (tab), and change the color.  The gamma is seen as a color curve that you can distort for each of the primary colors (Red, Green, Blue).  Other Display settings.

Help   Help   Help   Help   Help   Help   Help   Help   Help   Help   Help   (#Help)  

HELP - related information (#help)

HELP --> Find --> color --> color --> "Basic number format codes"

HELP --> Index --> colorindex property --> colorindex property

Macros   Macros   Macros   Macros   Macros   Macros   Macros   Macros   Macros   (#Macros)  

Setting Colors in Excel VBA Macros (#macros)

ActiveCell.Borders.Color = RGB(255, 0, 0)
ActiveCell.Borders(xlTop).Color = RGB(0, 0, 255)
ActiveCell.Borders(xlBottom).ColorIndex = 18

ActiveCell.Font.ColorIndex = 17
ActiveCell.Font.Color = RGB(255, 0, 0)
Selection.Interior.ColorIndex = xlNone  'xlColorIndexAutomatic or xlColorIndexNone
Selection.Interior.ColorIndex = 5
Selection.Interior.Color = RGB(200, 250, 200)
Selection.Interior.Color = &Hc8efac8   'h=Hex,  o=Octal  anyone still use octal
ActiveCell.Font.Background = {xlAutomatic | xlOpaque | x1Transparent}

ActiveWindow.GridlineColor = RGB(255,0,0)

Members of Excel Constants details:
Const xlColorIndexNone = -4142 (&HFFFFEFD2)
Const xlColorIndexAutomatic = -4105 (&HFFFFEFF7)
Const xlAutomatic = -4105 (&HFFFFEFF7)
Const xlBackgroundOpaque = 3
Const xlBackgroundTransparent = 2
Const xlOpaque = 3
Const xlTransparent = 2

Coloring Formulas Blue, and remove other font colors   (#ColorFormulas)

You could assign this to a toolbar button.
   Sub ColorFormulas()    'xl97 up use xlcelltypeformulas
     Cells.FONT.ColorIndex = xlAutomatic
     Selection.SpecialCells(xlFormulas).FONT.ColorIndex = 5
   End Sub
Also see Coloring Cells based on CellType as tested with SpecialCells.

Coloring Unprotected Cells Blue   (#FormatUnprotected)

Simulate a Lotus 1-2-3 feature to color unprotected cells blue (ref)
Sub FormatUnprotected()
    For Each Item In Intersect(ActiveSheet.UsedRange, Selection.Cells)
      If Item.Locked = False Then
        Item.Font.colorindex = 32
       End If
End Sub

Changing Font based on interior color and column (#chgfont)

Check for interior color of 41 (light blue).
Sub whiteONblue()
  Application.ScreenUpdating = False
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual   'pre XL97 xlManua
  Dim cell As Range
  For Each cell In Selection
    If cell.Interior.colorindex = 41 And cell.Column = 4 Then
        cell.Font.colorindex = 2 '2=white, 6=yellow
    End If
  Next cell
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic   'pre XL97 xlManua
  Application.ScreenUpdating = False
End Sub

Clear Constants from Color Cells   (#ClearConstantsFromColorCells)

The purpose of ClearConstantsFromColorCells is clear out constants from the cells that have an interior color, and to retain the color of the cells. Formulas, and empty cells will not be affected and aren't even checked.

You can select an entire column without taking 6 seconds to process every cell in that column because the cells processed must also have constants.  Anything located by SpecialCells is by definition in the UsedRange.  Anything outside the UsedRange could have color but won't have constants.

Have been doing so many change events lately that I turned off events during the execution.  There is a little risk here with EnableEvents turned off should the subroutine fail for some reason.

Sub ClearConstantsFromColorCells()
   Application.ScreenUpdating = False
   Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual
   Dim Cell As Range
   On Error Resume Next   'In case no cells in selection
   Application.EnableEvents = False
   For Each Cell In Intersect(Selection, _
      If Cell.Interior.ColorIndex >= 0 Then Cell.ClearContents
   Application.EnableEvents = True
   Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic
   Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

Determining Interior Color of Another Cell   (#icolorF)

  Function showRGB_wrong(rcell)
    showRGB = rcell.Interior.Color)
  End Function
You won't get too far in HTML using  range.Interior.Color  as above which is supposed to show RGB but shows them in the wrong order and without leading zeros.  HTML has the RGB components in the correct RGB order, so the following would be what you need to equate to HTML color definitions.  Most people get the HTML wrong because range.Interior.Color returns wrong order for RGB components. For this reason the tables show the #prefix used in HTML colors to avoid all ambiguity.
  Function showRGB(rcell)
     Dim xColor As String
     xColor = Right("000000" & Hex(rcell.Interior.Color), 6)
     ShowRGB = Right(xColor, 2) & Mid(xColor, 3, 2) _
      & Left(xColor, 2)
  End Function

  Function showColorIndex(rcell)
      showColorIndex = rcell.Interior.ColorIndex
  End Function
  Function ShowHTMLcolor(xcell) As String
     Dim xColor As String
     xColor = Right("000000" & Hex(xcell.Interior.Color), 6)
     ShowHTMLcolor = "#" & Right(xColor, 2) & Mid(xColor, 3, 2) _
      & Left(xColor, 2)
  End Function

Example: interior colorindex of B28
  The shortcut key Ctrl+Alt+F9 forces a recalculation of *everything* in all open workbooks whether or not Excel *thinks* recalculations are needed.  Changing a format does not trigger cell recalculation, so you will have to force this when you want the values to change.

The use of Volatile would also work but would probably have a severe impact on your use of Excel.  the VBA equivalent of the shortcut is
    Application.CalculateFull     ' in Excel 2000


Coloring a selection based on a simple cell formula (#colorofassignment)

See posting 2005-06-01 in Excel.misc
 1 A1-1   A1-1 C1: =A1  also tested for formulas like:
 2 A2-1   A3-1  C2: =A3  =Sheet4'!A18
 3  A3-1    100 C3: =A4  ='Sheet four'!A18
 4  $100.00    A2-1 C4: =A2 =(D20)
See posting 2005-06-01 in Excel.misc
Sub ColorOfAssignment()
    Dim rng As Range, cell As Range
    Set rng = Selection
    'rng.Interior.ColorIndex = xlAutomatic   'clear color
    For Each cell In Intersect(rng, _
        On Error Resume Next
        cell.Interior.ColorIndex = _
           Range(Mid(cell.Formula, 2)).Interior.ColorIndex
        On Error GoTo 0
    Next cell
End Sub

Formatting a selection based on a simple cell formula (#formatofassignment)

See posting 2005-06-01 in Excel.misc
 1 A1-1   A1-1 C1: =A1  also tested for formulas like:
 2 A2-1   A3-1  C2: =A3 =Sheet4'!A18
 3  A3-1     $100.00  C3: =A4  ='Sheet four'!A18
 4    $100.00    A2-1 C4: =A2 =(A20)
Sub FormatOfAssignment()
    Dim rng As Range, cell As Range
    Set rng = Selection
    For Each cell In Intersect(rng, _
        On Error GoTo passby
        Range(Mid(cell.Formula, 2)).Copy
        cell.PasteSpecial Paste:=xlFormats, Operation:=xlNone, _
           SkipBlanks:=False, Transpose:=False
        On Error GoTo 0
    Next cell
End Sub

Populating cell value based on Cell Interior Color (#popvalue)

Sub Populate_color()
   Dim cell As Range
   For Each cell In Intersect(Selection, _
            Selection.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeConstants, xlNumbers))
      cell.Interior.ColorIndex = cell.Value
   Next cell
End Sub

Setting Interior Color based on another Cell (#popbased)

Option Explicit
Global gblColorIndex As Long
Sub SetInteriorColor()
  gblColorIndex = ActiveCell.Interior.ColorIndex
End Sub 

Sub PutInteriorColor()
  Selection.Interior.ColorIndex = gblColorIndex
End Sub

Sub SameInteriorAsA1()
  Selection.Interior.ColorIndex = [A1].Interior.ColorIndex
End Sub
Also see Conditional Formatting.

Sorting on Interior Cell Color (#sorting)

This is a somewhat frequent request, that is going to be prone to errors in interpretation of what color is.  You can obtain ColorIndex or RGB but how would you sort that meaningfully.  Finally you are going to have problems with recalculaton. 

This topic is covered further on a separate page:  Color, Sorting on Color

Interior Color, using Count, SUM, etc. (#count)

For Each cell In Selection  'Check for Black interior color
    If cell.Interior.ColorIndex = 1 Then
    End If
If the colors you want to test are due to Conditional Formatting then use the same kind of test that you used for Conditional Formatting, and the results will be immediate (no recalculation needed) i.e.

If the colors are not from C.F. you will have to use a User Defined Function to find this information and since formatting is not registered as a cell change you will have to wait for a recalculation to occur to get a valid answer.  You can but should not make the macro Volatile, since by doing that you could bring your Excel to an extremely slow state.  Examples follow in the next paragraph.

See my Functions for Determining Interior Color of Another Cell described earlier for RGB, ColorIndex, and HEX.

Chip Pearson has some additional color functions using a little different approach unfortunately for whatever reason he does not provide (#cpcolorsx) examples of his Functions For Cell Colors:

The following examples obtain the colorindex from another cell which is best, because colorindex colors can be changed by changing the palette.

Interior, colorindex of
if you installed in your personal.xls workbook to be available to all workbooks, use

Font, colorindex of

Count the cells with same interior color as A$3

Count the cells with same font color as A$3

Sum of the cells with same interior color as A$3

#NAME? error will occur if you misspell one of the UDF (User Defined Function) above or did not install the function.  A #VALUE! error may occur if you did not install a function used inside or misuse it.  Instructions to install macros and User Defined Functions can be found on my formula.htm page.

To work with shading instead of colorindex use .pattern instead of .colorindex and rename functions accordingly.  Specific patterns include such name as: xlgray8, xlgrid, xlvertical

Processing Coloured Cells, Bob Phillips, informative text, and macro subroutines

Determining the Row color based on cell value in that row (#rowcolor)

Conditional Formatting introduced in Excel 97 is limited to 3 conditions.  With more than 3 conditions a macro would be required, such as shown below.  Another kind of macro that you could use is an Event Macro.  Note even if you have an Event macro you will probably want a normal macro to fix things up ahead of time.  A more complicated macro differentiating text values, numbers, and empty cells in addition to ranges of numbers.
Sub  ColorRowBasedOnCellValue()
  'David McRitchie, 2001-01-17 programming -- Color row based on value
  Application.ScreenUpdating = False
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual
  Dim cell As Range
  For Each cell In Intersect(Selection, ActiveCell.EntireColumn, _
    Select Case cell.Value
        Case Is >= 50
            cell.EntireRow.Interior.colorindex = 20
        Case Is >= 40
            cell.EntireRow.Interior.colorindex = 37
        Case Is >= 20
            cell.EntireRow.Interior.colorindex = 38
        Case Is >= 0
            cell.EntireRow.Interior.colorindex = 36
        Case Else
            cell.EntireRow.Interior.colorindex = 44
    End Select
  Next cell
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic
  Application.ScreenUpdating = False
End Sub

Delete Rows Based on RED interior color in Column A (#DelRows)

The following will delete the entire row if it sees RED as define by ColorIndex = 3    There are some caveats:

HEX Conversions for RGB values (#hexconv)

Hex characters are actually characters, but represent binary numbers.

RGB values are represented by 6 hex digits.  The first pair of digits represents Red, the next Green, and the last Blue.  The values range from 0 to 255, or in hex from 00 to FF.  Given a six hex digit representation in hex characters such as 00C0C8 as hex characters simply use left, and mid to separate them the digit pairs.  Look in HELP for more information about HEX2DEC and DEC2HEX.  Suppose B14 had a Long (Binary) integer in it and you want 6 hex digits for RGB.  HEX2DEC and DEC2HEX are part of the Statistical Analysis Toolpak [menu]  [list]

There are 256³ RGB colors (16,777,216) and only 56 colorindex colors in the palette; so a one to one match of each is not only impossible, but the colors in the palette can be reassigned to different colors. 

Conversion of Font color in Excel to a hex string for HTML (via VBA code)  (#hexconvxl)

The following code was used in XL2HTMLx conversion of an Excel sheet to HTML.  Note Excel appears to store binary values in reverse order or perhaps this is just “big-endian” (main frames, 1234 order) vs. “little-endian” (most PCs, 4321 order).

   xColor = Right("000000" & Hex(Selection.Cells(r, C).FONT.Color), 6)
   xColor = "#" & Right(xColor, 2) & Mid(xColor, 3, 2) & Left(xColor, 2)
   If xColor <> "#000000" Then _
      x = "<font color=""" & xColor & """>" & x & "</font>"
Conversion of a single binary decimal number to decimal RGB components (WS formulas)
      =RIGHT("000000" & DEC2HEX(B14),6)
If you have a character value such as 00C0C8 or you start from a Long (Binary) integer, your can incorporate the above formula into the following

I have not provided for the possibility of 3-digit hex numbers in HTML like #333 #608 which are equivalent to #333333 and #660088, simply because I would never create the values that way myself.

I also would never produce RGB(red,green,blue) strings for use in HTML and they are mostly done incorrectly (without quotes) in most places that I see them used and harder to work with visually when coding or comparing source.

Changing the Colors of your Excel Color Palette (#chgpalette)

To change a color in your palette go to Tools --> Options --> Color where you can change a color by double-clicking on a color cell.  Use Reset to revert back to defaults.  Also see   Help --> colors, changing

Changing the default Shading Color (Fill Color) / (#fillcolor)

The default shading color is yellow (RGB: 255, 255, 0).  If you want to change it for a workbook you will have to change the color in that position of the palette.  Best to exchange the color with another color on the palette say Lt Green (RGB: 204, 255, 204) using Tools, Options, Colors, Modify, Custom.  You can always use Reset to restore normal palette for the workbook. 

Changing the Color of your Excel Cell Comment  (#cellcommentcolor)

A frequent question in the newsgroups is how to change the default colors in the Cell Comments.  The name of the author is picked up from your Tools, Options, General, User Name.  (you cannot change the color of the red triangle)

Cell Comments are Tool Tips so to change your default you must change your Windows default.  To change only once cell comment double-click on the border of the cell comment and make your changes. 

To change Tool Tips.  (Changes to Windows settings affect ALL applications)
  Windows START, settings, control panel, Display (monitor icon)

Retain a copy of your Original Control Display Settings (#BackupDisplay)
Before continuing it might be a good idea to name your current settings and then name your new settings.

You can select parts of the windows shown which will change the item selected, but tool tips is not one of them, you have to use the pull down.

My own settings show: red text, yellow background, 8 point, MS Sans Serif, non bold, non italic.  (I'm not sure what they were originally).

Also see entire comment box turns black.

More material on Cell Comments 

Changing the Colors of Worksheet Tabs (#tabs)

The color of the tabs is controlled by Windows, you can change the scrollbar setting but it will affect everything in Windows and until Excel 2002 all tabs had to be the same color as the scrollbar.  Changes to size of scrollbar will change size of tabs.  Changes to color affect both tabs and all scrollbars in Windows (or at least in Office).  You can change the fontsize on the sheet tab, but not the font color or font size within the sheet tabs.  Before making changes see Retain a copy of your Original Control Display Settings on this page.

In Excel 2002 you can color individual worksheet tabs.  Here is a tip from Jessica Kovalik in exceltip at Microsoft ’s Office site.

In VBA (for Excel 2002) the equivalent would be:
    Activesheet.Tab.ColorIndex = 50

I believe the normal reason to color tabs is to provide an organization to them.  You can sort sheet tabs with a macro.  You can enhance your sorted arrangement by preceding the sheet tab with some less conspicuous small letters prefixes.  i.e.
    k.FunctKeys, k.ShortCutKeys
If working with dates for sheetnames, spell the year out and place it first
    2002-10, 2002-11, 2002-12, 2003-01
sort sheet tabs into alphabetical order in
The main topic on that page is to create a Table of Contents with hyperlinks to the other sheets.  Shorter versions with just membernames can be found in buildtoc.htm.  A builtin alternative to navigate to a sheet via the More Sheets dialog listing (also available from a macro) is to right-click on a scrolling arrow in lower left corner, the sheets are listed in the same order as the worksheet tabs at the bottom of your spreadsheet (another reason to sort your worksheets).
Sort sheets by color of sheet tab, by colorindex number, Chip Pearson's sortws.htm

There is one problem that I know of with the arrangement of sheet tabs.  You will probably have trouble with Mail Merge if the worksheet to be used in Mail Merge is not the first worksheet.

You can go through 90 worksheets very quickly using Ctrl+PageDn to go down through the worksheet tabs, or Ctrl+PageUp to backup through the tabs.  I prefer to use a couple of macros and toolbar buttons –   Previous Sheet -- Ctrl+PageUP  Next Sheet -- Ctrl+PageDN 

Color Triangles in Excel   (#triangles)

Printing the comment indicator by aligning a shape over the upper right corner of cells with comments.  see Print Worksheet with Comment Indicators (

Manually Changing the Interior Color of Worksheet Cells (#manual)

Setting the interior color of the active cell, specifically Applies to all cells in a selection that you can add to with the use of the Ctrl key.
    Format --> cells --> patterns and colors

You can install a button on your toolbar to hasten the process, it looks like a dripping paint can.
    View --> customize --> toolbars --> custom --> format
select the dripping paint bucked, marked Fill Color and drag it to your toolbar (if not already there).

Color Coding Cells for Usage (#colorcoding)

You can color code cells or text to help with reading and/or to help with data entry.  Please keep in mind that laptops and color-blind people may not see colors the same as you do.
Related: Conditional Formatting, Format/Styles, Filtering, Tracking

Color Charts on the Web   (#colorcharts)

Refer to RGB Hex Triplet Color Chart for Douglas R. Jacobson ’s charts. []

Hex Color Chart for the HTML Resource Guide for a faster loading variation of Jacobson ’s hex chart by Jack Wilson. [ It ’s faster because it uses tables with BGCOLOR instead of a lot of bit maps. [ archived copy]

Color Chart at Alan Barasch ’s Excel site has a slider to change the background color so you can check combinations of cell colors in foreground to varied background colors in HTML.  Pretty neat.  He also has a similar Font Color Chart (text background), and Color Chart (page background) a slider to change cell background color.  (Charts and sliders each have 216 colors) Works only in Internet Explorer, but is one of the easiest to use.

6X6X6 Netscape Color Palette Map

Web colors - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Color Detector D (#detector) eyedropper - Color Detector, Freeware program to detect the color of any pixel on the screen. Simply run the program, point the mouse cursor anywhere on the screen, and the color detector window will display the RGB values, HTML hex code, and the color name of the color of the pixel pointed to by the mouse cursor.  You can invoke the installed .exe link directly with IE, or if using Firefox by invoking through your customized Launchy extension to invoke with Explorer.  ( colordector.exe)

If you are using Firefox for browsing HTML you might want to also install Colorzilla extension for working within Firefox – Eyedropper (color sampler, status bar options), ColorPicker, Page Zoomer, DOM inspector (if present).  More extensions on my Firefox Customization (Notes) page.

Color Wheel Picker, is similar to Color Detector but works only on its page with a color wheel so you can pick your color (IE active-x only)

Back To Font Web Color Picker, select your colors and create the styles to place into your HTML coding.   Also see CSS (Style Sheets) on other references on my Font page.

HTML Colors - Color picker, AMPsoft, displays the hex, dec and RGB values, via taskbar icon or hotkey  (is not a detector)

Palette Grabber :: Firefox Add-ons, Creates a color palette for Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, Flash, Fireworks, Paint.NET, or OS X based on the current page.

Color Luminance   (#Luma)

In color television luminance is calculated (approximately) like this (1 = white, represented by 1V signal voltage):
  L = R*0.3+G*0.59+B*0.11

This formula was created to make the color video signal compatible with black and white monitors/receivers.  Monochrome monitors are still in use as professional viewfinders on many TV cameras, since they create a sharper image than one made from a color matrix. Posted by Harald Staff, plus the reference below.

Poynton ’s Color FAQ, Charles Poynton   [alt] [archive] -- see item #9.

Colors used in other programs (not Excel) / (#pgms)

Coloring Code (#coloringcode)

Colors used in the Visual Basic Editor (#vbe)

Not going to go into this in detail here or on the page for the Visual Basic Editor (VBE) Window but you can change the colors in the code window (Alt+F11, F7) for background, font and indicator for each of these texts: Normal, Selection, Syntax Error, Execution Point, Break Point, Comment, Keyword, Identifier, Bookmark, and Call Return.  [VBE Tools menu, Options, Editor Format (tab) ]

Browsers ☷☷☷  

Browsers   Browsers   Browsers   Browsers   Browsers   Browsers   Browsers   Browsers   (#browsers)  

See information under Color Detector and other references to Firefox, Internet Explorer, and HTML on this page.

There are bookmarklets (JavaScript code) that are stored as bookmarks that can be run in all browsers, but specific bookmarklets may be limited to one browser due to limitations in a browser.  There are several webpages with bookmarklets that involve color at, specifically Color Bookmarklets and Bookmarklets for Zapping Annoyances.

Related ☷☷☷  

Related   Related   Related   Related   Related   Related   Related   Related   Related   Related   (#related)  

Pages on this site using Color (#thissite)

Newsgroup Postings on Colors (#postings)

Other Pages on Colors in Excel (#otherxl)

Colorblind (#colorblind)

Other Pages Making Use of Color (#other)

Other Things not necessary related to Colors (#font)

Problems formatting color (#problems)

Printers, Printing and colors -- How Printers work (#printers)

Microsoft Knowledge DataBase   (#mskb)

Q97600 Printed Colors Different than on Screen:  Blue is Purple, etc.  This is not a problem with your printer driver, with Microsoft Windows, or with your printer.  RGB colors (light) are additive.  CMYK colors (pigments) are subtractive.  Color-Matching Blues [PC Magazine Apr 9, 1996].

Q149170 - Sample Visual Basic Code to Create Color Index Table

Q170781 XL: RGB Function May Map to Incorrect Color
The color property accepts an RGB triple and maps it to the nearest color index.  When the property retrieves the color value, it returns the RGB color of the index, which may be different from the value you typed. In the example, RGB(65,0,0) is mapped to Dark Red (RGB(128,0,0)), but RGB(64,0,0) is mapped to Black (RGB(0,0,0)).

Q157202 - XL97: Color Palette Looks Different in MS Excel 97
Q211533 - XL2000: Color Palette Looks Different in Microsoft Excel 2000
Q291293 - XL2002: Color Palette Looks Different in Microsoft Excel 2002

288412 XL2002: How to Change the Color Palette for Workbooks

Q163230 - Thick Borders May Not Be Printed in Low Printer Resolution (163230) -- When you print thick borders in Microsoft Excel, the borders may be partially printed, or the borders may not be printed at all.

Q320531 -- OFF: Changes to Fill Color and Fill Pattern Are Not Displayed
Incorrect/missing colors may occur with use of High Contrast under Display tab of Accessibility Options.  Colors don't show on monitor however, you may be able to see the changes in print preview and on a printed page.  Also see Problems topic.

 MS KB Term  Article title   --     [ref]  Product
 Q211661 XL2000:  Black and White Printer Prints Colored Lines As Grayscale  Excel 2000
 Q248175 XL2000:  Border Color of Lines Returns Incorrect RGB Value When Border Color Is Set to Automatic  VBA
 Q176839 XL:  Buttons on Toolbar Created in Earlier Version May Lose Color  Excel
 Q211650 XL2000:  Cannot Change Fill Color for Walls or Floor on 3-D Chart  Excel 2000
 Q214312 XL2000:  Cannot Change Series Colors on a Surface Chart Excel 2000
 Q95478 XL: Can't Print Color Headers and Footers  Excel
 Q212746 XL:  Cell Fill Color Bleeds into Adjacent Cells When Viewed in Web Browser  Excel
 Q82015 XL:  Changing Series Colors on a Surface Chart Excel
 Q211533 XL2000:  Color Palette Looks Different in Microsoft Excel 2000 VBA
 Q229006 XL:  Colors in HTML File Don't Appear as Expected When Opening Page in Excel  Excel
 Q134261 XL:  Data Map Colors Lost When File Exported to Macintosh Excel
 Q211828 XL2000:  Fill Colors May Be Saved Incorrectly with WK3 File Excel 2000
 Q214097 XL2000:  Header or Footer Is Not Printed in Color Excel 2000
 Q202355 XL2000:  Hyperlink Colors Don't Show Expected Color Format Excel 2000
 Q213191 XL2000:  Modules Cannot Be Printed in Color Excel 2000
 Q173083 XL: Modules Cannot Be Printed in Color  VBA
 Q213201 XL2000:  RGB Function May Map to Unexpected Color VBA
 Q213801 XL:  Sample Visual Basic Code to Create Color Index Table Excel
 Q214353 XL2000:  Toolbar Buttons Created in Earlier Version May Lose Color  Excel 2000
 Q211728 XL2000:  Trendline Equation Label Does Not Use the Specified Color  Excel 2000
 Q211677 XL2000:  Unexpected Font or Color Formatting Applied to Chart  Excel 2000
 Q213688 XL2000:  Using ColorIndex Property to Set Color of Borders Results in Unexpected Behavior  VBA

Microsoft MSDN   (#msdn)

ColorIndex Property, article within Office Web Components in MSDN (shows the color palette).

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