Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007 and 2010. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Positive and Negative Colors in a Chart.

# Positive and Negative Colors in a Chart

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 23, 2021)

Merril asked if there was a way to create a line chart so that when a line represented a negative value, the color of the line would change at the point when it went negative. For instance, in a particular data series, as long as the line represented positive values, it would be blue, but when the line represented negative values, it would change to red.

Unfortunately there is no way to easily do this in Excel. There are, however, a couple of workarounds you can try. The first is to use a macro to change the line colors of chart lines that represent negative values. The following macro is an example of such an approach:

```Sub PosNegLine()
Dim chtSeries As Series
Dim SeriesNum As Integer
Dim SeriesColor As Integer
Dim MyChart As Chart
Dim R As Range
Dim i As Integer
Dim LineColor As Integer
Dim PosColor As Integer
Dim NegColor As Integer
Dim LastPtColor As Integer
Dim CurrPtColor As Integer

PosColor = 4 'Green
NegColor = 3 'red
SeriesNum = 1

Set MyChart = ActiveSheet.ChartObjects(1).Chart
Set chtSeries = MyChart.SeriesCollection(SeriesNum)
Set R = GetChartRange(MyChart, 1, "Values")

For i = 2 To R.Cells.Count
LastPtColor = IIf(R.Cells(i - 1).Value < 0, NegColor, PosColor)
CurrPtColor = IIf(R.Cells(i).Value < 0, NegColor, PosColor)

If LastPtColor = CurrPtColor Then
LineColor = LastPtColor
Else
If Abs(R.Cells(i - 1).Value) > Abs(R.Cells(i).Value) Then
LineColor = LastPtColor
Else
LineColor = CurrPtColor
End If
End If
chtSeries.Points(i).Border.ColorIndex = LineColor
Next i
End Sub
```
```Function GetChartRange(Ch As Chart, Ser As Integer, _
ValXorY As String) As Range
Dim SeriesFormula As String
Dim ListSep As String * 1
Dim Pos As Integer
Dim LSeps() As Integer
Dim Txt As String
Dim i As Integer

Set GetChartRange = Nothing

On Error Resume Next
SeriesFormula = Ch.SeriesCollection(Ser).Formula
ListSep = ","
For i = 1 To Len(SeriesFormula)
If Mid\$(SeriesFormula, i, 1) = ListSep Then
Pos = Pos + 1
ReDim Preserve LSeps(Pos)
LSeps(Pos) = i
End If
Next i

If UCase(ValXorY) = "XVALUES" Then
Txt = Mid\$(SeriesFormula, LSeps(1) + 1, LSeps(2) - LSeps(1) - 1)

Set GetChartRange = Range(Txt)
End If

If UCase(ValXorY) = "VALUES" Then
Txt = Mid\$(SeriesFormula, LSeps(2) + 1, LSeps(3) - LSeps(2) - 1)

Set GetChartRange = Range(Txt)
End If
End Function
```

When you select a chart and then run the PosNegLine macro, it looks through the chart and, for line segments between negative data point values, changes the line color to red. For line segments connecting positive data points, the line color is set to green.

The problem with this solution is that it provides only an approximation; it only works with lines connecting two data points, and it can either change the entire line segment or not. If the beginning data point is positive and the ending data point is negative, it cannot change the color of a line right as it passes into negative values.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1796) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Positive and Negative Colors in a Chart.

##### Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 7 + 4?

2017-03-21 15:08:36

Neil

Nice Yoann! The 49%-51% split only works perfectly if half of your data is above zero. If more than half is positive or negative, you'll need to adjust the split accordingly to something like 60%-61% or 43%-44% for instance. For bar charts, Excel has the "invert when negative" feature.

2013-03-13 06:45:05

Joe Marten

Hi Yoann,
Pretty darn slick!

2013-03-12 20:13:31

Yoann

Hi,
I'm using Excel 2010 and I've managed to do it using a simple trick: in the Chart tools, go to the Format tab, then Fill, then choose a gradient. Put a color for the position 0%, the same color at 49%, then another color for 51% and this color again for 100%. This way the color changes when the value become positive! :)

2013-03-06 09:42:11

Shandor

Barry's technique seems the most efficient. But the original situation is dubious; why characterize negs in a line chart by color alone, when negs are best perceived when they dip below a horizon, as in bar charts where positives are above the line & negs below, even if colored. A horizontal line could pass through the line series to offer the transition point. But maybe this is a special case.

2013-03-06 08:24:51

Dave

Interestingly I ran the code on a simply 24 month set of data. Initially the chart had a legend for 1 data series, and after the code the legend is expanded to 24 data series. Not the intended result.

2013-03-06 08:13:47

Dave

I agree with Barry, add this complexity of a macro is over kill when it can be done with different sets of data.

This tehcnique with different set of data also works for stacked area charts.

2013-03-06 08:00:59

Barry Fitzpatrick

I've have successfully achieved this without the use of macros.

Create from the original data two data series one for the positive values, and the other for the negative values making sure that the negative values in the positive series are blank, and positive values in the negative series are blank. (This is because blanks will not be plotted in a chart). You need to decide how to handle the transition in order to avoid a discontinuity in the a chart.

Then have the chart plot both data series, so the two data series are superimposed

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