Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. 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: Changing Cell Patterns.

Changing Cell Patterns

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 24, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Excel allows you to easily change the background pattern used in the cell. In the early days of spreadsheets, patterns were the only way you had to differentiate one cell from another. To change cell patterns, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells whose background patterns you want to change.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Format tool in the Cells group, and then click Format Cells. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Fill tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Fill tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. Use the Pattern Color drop-down list to select the color you want used for the pattern.
  7. Use the Pattern Style drop-down list to select any of the available patterns.
  8. Click on OK.

You should note that any pattern you select appears in the background of the cell, meaning that it appears behind any information contained within the cell. Thus, by creatively combining patterns, pattern colors, and other formatting options, you can create many, many different special effects.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6286) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Changing Cell Patterns.

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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