RGB Values for Automatic Colors

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 11, 2018)

2

Paul generates a lot of XY plots in Excel. Sometimes he wants to change the colors of the markers and lines of one series to match those of another series. He would like to match the "automatic" colors that Excel applies, but Paul hasn't found a way to get a list of the RGB values for the "automatic" colors. When he manually selects colors for a series a dialog box opens showing theme colors, standard colors, and recent colors. Oddly, none of these are the same as the automatic colors. Paul wonders if anyone knows how to identify the RGB values of Excel's automatic colors.

To discover a chart line's RGB value, as assigned by Excel, follow these steps if you are using Excel 2013 or a later version:

  1. Right-click on the data series (the line) in the chart. Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose Format Data Series. Excel displays the Format Data Series task pane at the right of the screen.
  3. In the task pane click the Fill & Line option. (This option looks like a spilling paint bucket.)
  4. Expand the Line options, if necessary.
  5. Click the Color tool. Excel displays a palette of colors you can use.
  6. Choose More Colors. Excel displays the Colors dialog box. The Custom tab should be displayed, by default, in the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  7. Figure 1. The Custom tab of the Colors dialog box.

The RGB values shown in the dialog box are the values for the currently selected data series. Jot them down and then you can close all the dialog boxes and the task pane.

The above steps (or their equivalent, adjusted for interface differences) won't work in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. The reason is because Excel doesn't make the Color tool available in the Format Data Series dialog box as it does in Excel 2013 and later versions. (The tool is hidden if the line type is set to Automatic.) So, you must resort to a different technique.

Perhaps the quickest way to find out the RGB values of a color is to use a specialized tool outside of Excel. A class of tool known as a "color picker" can be used to show the color of any pixel on the screen—including those used in a chart line. The following are a few different color pickers you can check out:

http://www.blacksunsoftware.com/colormania.html
http://instant-eyedropper.com
https://www.picpick.org

This list of suggestions isn't exhaustive, by any means. You should be able to do a web search for "color picker" (with the quotes) and find literally scores of such utilities.

When working with automatic colors in charts, remember that Excel can and often does change them whenever a chart is regenerated. (They are automatic, after all.) This is particularly true if you change a single data series so it is no longer automatic of if you add to or remove from the chart's underlying data.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12632) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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

Referencing Worksheet Tabs

Ever want to use the name of a worksheet tab within a cell? Here's how you can access that information using the CELL ...

Discover More

Calculating TV Time

In some industries it is necessary to work with time resolutions of less than a second. If you need to keep track of such ...

Discover More

Skipping Hidden Rows in a Macro

As your macro processes information in a worksheet, you may want to make sure that it skips over rows that are hidden. ...

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)

Controlling the Plotting of Empty Cells

When creating a chart from information that contains empty cells, you can direct Excel how it should proceed. This tip ...

Discover More

Adjusting Your View of 3-D Graphs

Do you use Excel's charting capabilities to display three-dimensional views of your data? The program provides a way that ...

Discover More

Specifying the Size of Chart Objects

Unhappy with the default size that Excel uses for embedded chart objects? You can't change the size at which they are ...

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}] 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 eight less than 8?

2018-09-22 13:15:08

Paul

Hi Kia

Try the Colours button, near the left-hand end of the Page Layout tab in Excel.

This gives a menu of different colour combinations for the default colours used by Excel throughout the workbook (so not just the currently selected chart/cell etc)

Use the Customise Colours option at the bottom of the menu to create your own colour set. By default, charts use the colours accent 1 to accent 6. Give your colour set a name using the box at the bottom of the dialog box and click Save to save and apply the colours.

This changes the colours which appear in the colour pickers for font, border and fill, and the default colours used in charts and SmartArt diagrams. Once you have saved a colour set in one workbook, it will be available on the colours button in other workbooks, and also available in Word and PowerPoint (look on the Design tab).

regards

Paul


2018-09-13 00:35:43

Kia

Hi there,
Is there anyway of changing the colours that excel automatically chooses for its charts and line graphs? So that anytime I make a graph with three different data lines, my top 3 preferred colours are the ones that appear before formatting? This would be very helpful and would save a lot of time considering in my company we like all the charts to have the same theme. Cutting out the process of changing the line colours each time would be great!

Thanks!


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.