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: Creating 3-D Formatting for a Cell.

Creating 3-D Formatting for a Cell

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 24, 2020)

7

Do you want the formatting of a cell to "stand out" from the surrounding cells? It's rather easy to do, once you understand how to create the illusion of three dimensions. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell that you want to format.
  2. Right-click on the selected cell and choose Format Cells. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Fill tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Fill tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. From the colors available, pick the lightest gray color you can see. This forms the background for the cell.
  6. Display the Border tab. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Border tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  8. In the Style list of the Line area, click on the second-widest solid line.
  9. Make sure the Color drop-down is set to either Automatic or Black. (In most cases, these two settings result in a black color, which is what you want.)
  10. In the Border area, click the buttons for both the right border and the bottom border. (You could also click on the actual border locations in the preview area, if desired.)
  11. Using the Color drop-down, choose White. It will look like all the line styles disappeared, but don't worry—they are still there, and the second-thickest line style should still be selected.
  12. Click the buttons for both the left border and the top border. (Again, you could also click on the border locations in the preview area.) You shouldn't see anything in the preview area, since white-on-white doesn't show up well. However, the buttons for the left and top borders should show as selected.
  13. Click OK.

The cell you selected in step 1 should now look as if it is "raised" off the worksheet around it. You can accentuate the effect even more if you apply a background color to the cells that surround the one that you want to look raised.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12143) 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: Creating 3-D Formatting for a Cell.

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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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}] 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 two more than 3?

2020-09-24 18:18:36

Ronmio

I would suggest using a medium gray for the bottom and right borders. That will look more like a shadow effect than black will. Here are illustration using all three border widths.

(see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. 3-D Examples


2020-09-24 10:58:51

Donald

I tried this Tip in my Office 365 Excel and wasn't impressed with it at all. I tried 5 cells of varying sizes and none of them had that '3D' look to it. But, on the other habd, this has increased my knowledge of Excel. So, thanks, Allen, for the tip. I look forward to others that you may post.


2017-02-06 13:28:51

Brian

The tip works nicely. Spend a coupla minutes and make a little table using the tip. As a variation of this tip, rather than use white and black for the edges, use lighter and darker shades of the cell fill color to get the raised effect. You can reverse the colors to get a sunken effect.


2017-02-06 08:30:57

Russell

Not what I expected based on the Excel Tips Newsletter description, but does result in a nice 3D button effect.


2017-02-06 08:07:22

Bill Korebein

Not a useful tip without a picture of the result


2017-02-06 05:33:13

Ken Varley

Disappointed with this tip.

You showed a picture of raised triangles in your letter, not a button


2017-02-04 13:25:53

Carlos

not very clear - need picture of the result


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