Colourful Spreadsheets


If you want to produce Excel reports with impact, you have to consider formatting as well as data content. One of the flaws of Excel is the
rather garish colour palette provided as standard, which seems to favour the production of colour clashing disasters.

Although it is possible to choose custom colours when formatting regions of your workbook it does require quite a lot of effort. Its a
shame you can’t select themes, as you can with other microsoft products eg Publisher, and have the colour palette change accordingly.

Excel palette

All is not lost though as you can create and modify your own palettes:
Open a spreadsheet and head for TOOLS > OPTION and select the COLOUR tab. You should now be presented with the standard colour scheme. You can click on each of the coloured squares and modify them, MODIFY > CUSTOM and enter the specific RGB values.

You’ll start yawning pretty quickly as it is a fairly tiresome task, mind you, once it is done you can save the completed workbook as a template and select your desired palette every time you start a new spreadsheet. If you really can’t be bothered, you are in luck as I’ve uploaded a blank workbook with the above colour scheme already sorted out. You can download it and apply the colour scheme to your own reports:
Custom Colour Palette Excel Spreadsheet

When a spreadsheet with the desired colour scheme is open you can copy it to any other open workbook, from TOOLS > OPTIONS > COLOUR just choose the spreadsheet with the desired colour scheme using the “Copy colours from” dialog box.

I’ve prepared a couple of additional colour palettes and thought I may as well share them online:

Here’s a bluer version:
and a greenish version:
Just click the image to download the relevant spreadsheet.

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  • Pauline

    Hello, yes creating a colour palette does involve a lot of yawning and not much in the way results. Thanks for the help. I love the first two palettes – brilliant.