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: Setting a Transparent Color for an Image.

Setting a Transparent Color for an Image

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 21, 2019)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Whenever you place a picture in your worksheet, it is rectangular in nature. Sometimes, the image may actually be rather small, but the area occupied by the image is rather large. For instance, you could have a logo that is diagonal in nature, which means that there is a large "background area" on the image. This background area, for all intents and purposes, is wasted space.

Fortunately, Excel allows you to define a particular color in your image as a transparent color. This means you could select the background area of your image, designate it as transparent, and thereby allow the underlying cells show through. To make a transparent area in your image, follow these steps:

  1. Select the image you want to modify.
  2. Make sure the Format tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  3. In the Adjust group click the Recolor tool or the Color tool (depending on your version of Excel). Excel displays a series of options.
  4. Click Set Transparent Color. The mouse pointer changes.
  5. In the image, click on the color you want to be transparent.

If you can't select the Set Transparent Color tool in step 3, then you might not be able to set a transparent color in the image. Excel allows you to set the transparency color for bitmapped graphics, but not for other types. If you later want to turn off the transparency color, then you need to click the Reset Picture tool in the Adjust group on the Format tab of the ribbon.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8729) 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: Setting a Transparent Color for an Image.

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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