by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 9, 2018)
When Gary adds a shape to a worksheet, Excel automatically fills it with a color that he can then change. The problem is that Gary doesn't want the shapes filled with any color; he wants them empty, by default. He wonders if there is a way to change the default for shapes so that they don't have a fill color.
There are a few ways you can approach a solution to this issue. First, if you want to affect just the current workbook, then you can set the default format for your shapes, which includes the fill they use. To set the default, simply format a shape the way you want and then right-click on the border of the shape. In the Context menu that appears, choose the Set As Default Shape option. Now, anytime you are working with this particular worksheet, Excel remembers the formatting you want used for any new shapes you add.
The second approach is to create a theme that reflects how you want shapes to appear. Excel uses themes to define the colors, fonts, and effects available within a workbook. By default, every workbook has a theme associated with it; the default theme is called Office Theme. You can choose a different theme by displaying the Page Layout tab of the ribbon and using the Themes tool to choose which one you want used.
With a theme applied (or the default theme, if you don't explicitly apply another theme), you can start to make changes to the theme. If all you want to do is affect the fill color used for shapes, follow these general steps:
Now, with your theme saved (which includes the default formatting for your shapes), you can apply the theme to other workbooks. Once applied, any shapes you add to those other workbooks will reflect the formatting you created and saved in the theme.
Note that this approach doesn't provide for the unfilled shapes to be the default for all new workbooks; you still need to apply the theme you created. If you want to remove even that one necessary step, you can follow these general steps:
If you are unsure of where the XLStart folder is located (step 6), use Windows to search for the folder. Its exact location can vary depending on how Excel was installed on your machine. The folder is normally in the same folder where Excel was installed on your system, but it may not be. (Thus the suggestion to search.)
Now, when you restart Excel, the template you just created and saved is used as the default template for your new workbooks. That means that it will already have your custom theme applied, which controls whether your shapes are filled or not.
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