Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Colorizing Charts.

Colorizing Charts

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 2, 2017)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


If you have a pie chart with a large number of sections, getting unique colors for each section might be a problem. Or, perhaps your printer doesn't print colors exactly as they are on your screen so some colors which appear quite distinct on the screen will print out nearly the same on paper.

Don't despair—you can change the color of any individual section of a pie chart, or any other type of chart for that matter. For pie charts, follow these steps if you are using Excel 2007 or Excel 2010:

  1. Click on the "pie" so that it is surrounded by handles (little circles).
  2. Click again on the section you want to change. The handles will now surround only that section.
  3. Right-click on the section. Excel displays a Context menu.
  4. Choose the Format Data Point option from the Context menu. Excel displays the Format Data Point dialog box.
  5. Click Fill at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Fill options of the Format Data Point dialog box.

  7. Click the Solid Fill radio button. (Feel free to experiment with the other radio buttons, if you prefer.)
  8. Use the Color drop-down list to select the color you want to use for the chart section.
  9. Click on OK (Excel 2007) or Close (Excel 2010). Excel updates your chart.

The process is much easier if you are using Excel 2013 or Excel 2016:

  1. Click on the "pie" so that it is surrounded by handles (little circles).
  2. Click again on the section you want to change. The handles will now surround only that section.
  3. Right-click on the section. Excel displays a Context menu.
  4. Click the Fill tool that appears at the top of the Context menu. Excel displays a palette of colors.
  5. Choose the color you want to use for the chart section.

Regardless of the version of Excel you are using, these steps can be easily adapted to any type of chart. The only difference is that you select the chart object (bar, point, what have you) in the first two steps instead of the pie section.

When I make a chart, I also like to apply this same process to chart titles. I like them to be the same color as the information in the chart to which they apply. This makes identification even clearer.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6295) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Colorizing Charts.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Selecting an Entire Section

Documents can be subdivided into sections, with each of them formatted differently. If you want to select all the text in ...

Discover More

Limiting Entries to Numeric Values

When creating a worksheet, you may need to limit what can be entered into a particular cell. Using data validation you ...

Discover More

Searching for Tabs

Tabs don't normally show up in your printed document, but Word allows you to still search for them. All you need to do is ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Creating a Log/Log Chart

If you need to create a chart that uses logarithmic values on both axes, it can be confusing how to get what you want. ...

Discover More

Excel Charts in PowerPoint

A common place to use Excel charts is in your PowerPoint presentations. How you paste those charts into the presentation ...

Discover More

Making Sure that Data Accompanies a Chart

When sending a chart to someone else, it can be frustrating for the other person to open the workbook and see errors ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 - 3?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.