Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 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 the Color of a Cell Border.

Changing the Color of a Cell Border

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 18, 2019)


You probably already know that Excel allows you to add borders to your cells. This is handy for separating different pieces of information within the same data table and for, well, just making your data look better.

You are not limited to black borders, however. You can specify different colors for your borders by following these steps:

  1. Select the cells whose border colors you want to change.
  2. Make sure the Home tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  3. In the Font group, click the down-arrow next to the Borders tool. You'll see a list of borders you can apply to the cell.
  4. Click the More Borders option at the bottom of the list. Excel displays the Border tab of the Format Cells dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Border tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. Using the Color drop-down list, specify a color you want to use for borders.
  7. Using the controls in the dialog box, specify the borders for the cell as you normally would.
  8. Click on OK.

Just as you can specify a different border type for each side of a cell, you can also specify a different border color for each side of the cell. Just make sure you pick the color you want used before you click on the side of the cell where you want that color used.

Another way you can change the border color is to use the border drawing tools Excel provides. Just display the Home tab of the ribbon and then click the down-arrow next to the Borders tool (in the Font group). Excel displays a whole bunch of choices for applying borders. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Drawing using a border color.

The option you are interested in is the Line Color option. Hover over it, and you'll see a palette of colors you can choose. Pick the color you want, and Excel kicks into border-drawing mode. (You can tell because the mouse pointer changes to a small pencil shape.) Move near the border you want, hold down the mouse button, and drag the mouse. The border is drawn on the cells as you specify. When you press Esc to exit border-drawing mode, any borders you subsequently apply (by whatever means) are applied in the same color you selected.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8773) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Changing the Color of a Cell Border.

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 nine more than 0?

2018-02-13 13:09:31


"You can specify different colors for your borders by following these steps:"
I did the above steps very carefully many times. The border will not change color.

I tried using the Line Color approach and it works fine.

Why doesn't the full border approach work.

I am using Excel 2007.

2016-08-24 03:35:55


Can you change the border color in Excel when using the online version? I can't find anything and been using Excel for a few years (so I feel familiar with finding my way around editing), but I feel stumped. I feel like a second opinion would be much help. Thanks.

2016-03-08 21:20:55


It's hard to see the green border that appears when I use the search function to find text within my document. Any way to change it to red and a heavier border, so when it finds the cell containing the text I can see it easily? Thanks in advance.

2014-06-25 07:40:28


@wulflyng: for the first case, I selected a grid of 3x3 cells individually and applied different colored borders. It appears that if there are opposing borders applied at the same time, Excel gives precedence to the bottom and right borders. So in my 3x3 cell I made the top borders blue, bottom red, left green, and right orange. The three top lines were blue with a red at the bottom, and the three right lines were orange with a green to the left.

For the second case I couldn't quite pick up the pattern. I set up a 3x3 grid with conditional formatting such that any cell with a 1 had a blue border, anything with a 0 had a red border, and anything else had no border (default). No matter what I did the blue cells took precedence, followed by red, followed by blank. I even created a new set of rules, but created them in a different order than the first time, and it still didn't make a difference: blue always had precedence.

Just for kicks, I switched the conditions around so that 1 was red and 0 was blue; this time, the red cells took precedence! So for the simple case I tried, whichever cell has the highest value takes precedence for conditionally-formatted borders.

2014-06-24 10:06:11


If you highlight adjacent cells separatly, how does Excel decide. As well, if different border colours are part of conditional formats in adjacent cells, how does Excel make up its "mind"?

2014-06-23 10:44:36

Tony Welborne

You can access the Border format menu quicker by just right clicking the cell, selecting Format Cells, and then select the Borders tab.

2014-06-22 01:59:51

Shravan Kumar Yadav

Thanks Sir, you are great for me. I knew some but knewing this also, now I have more efficient way to draw border and fill color quickly.

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