How to Make Bars Different Colors in an Excel Chart

by Filonia LeChat

Microsoft Excel is often a time-saver when you want to create visuals to demonstrate numerical data, and Excel’s chart-creation function takes columns or rows of numbers and transforms them into bar charts in a couple of clicks. Although the default settings -- usually blue and red for the first two colors in each chart -- are meant to save you set-up time, you’re able to customize the colors to your own documentation requirements. Design a rainbow chart with a bar in every color or make charts that alternate to show a pattern between two things.

1

Start Microsoft Excel, and open the spreadsheet with the bar colors that you would like to change.

2

Right-click on one of the bars to change its color.

3

Click the "paint bucket" icon in the small pop-up window that appears when you right-click.

4

Click a small, solid-colored square from the fill rainbow grid, and the bar color changes.

5

Right-click another bar and repeat the process to change that bar’s color.

Tips

  • If you’re starting from scratch, you can generate a bar chart by highlighting at least two columns’ or rows’ worth of data and then clicking the “Insert” tab. Click the “Bar” button and step through the chart setup process, and then follow the rest of the instructions here to change the colors.
  • To change multiple bars to the same color, press and hold down the “Ctrl” key before you right-click on each bar. This is helpful when you want to have a bar chart with alternating colors, such as green and yellow. This will save click time as well as ensure the colors are exactly the same for each bar you designate.

Warning

  • These instructions apply to Excel 2013, 2010 and 2007. The sole difference is that with Excel 2007, you’ll click the Office button instead of the “File” tab to open your spreadsheet.

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About the Author

Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.

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