Choosing Colours In Microsoft Office Applications
Part one of a three-part series of blogs

Have you ever been asked to reproduce your company's brand colours in your latest PowerPoint presentation, or wanted to use your corporate font colours in your latest Word report? This blog will show you how to pick your colours accurately in any of the standard Microsoft Office applications.

  1. Choosing Colours in Microsoft Office (this blog)
  2. Defining Colours Using a Color Model
  3. Colour Quirks in Specific Applications

Posted by Andrew Gould on 19 September 2011

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Choosing Colours in Microsoft Office

Picking colours for text and backgrounds in Microsoft Office products such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint is usually quite straightforward: you click on a dropdown list, find a colour that you like the look of and click on it!  But what if you've used a specific colour in a Word document and you'd like to use exactly the same colour in an Excel spreadsheet?  Or what if you've been asked to use your company's corporate colours in a PowerPoint presentation?  Fortunately, each Microsoft Office product provides you with at least one way of choosing your colours very accurately.  Read on to find out how!

Picking Basic Colours in Microsoft Office

Nearly everyone who's used a Microsoft Office product will have encountered one of the colour picker tools to change the colour of a bit of text, the outline of a shape, or the fill colour of an object.  The three standard colour picker tools are shown in the diagram below:

The three colour picker tools

The three standard colour picker tools in every Office product. From left to right they are:


Viewing the Custom Colors Dialog Box

The problem with the standard colour picker tools is that the list of colours they display is quite limited in terms of the number of colours your computer can actually display.  If you want to see a larger range of colours you'll need to use the Colors dialog box.  Getting to the Colors dialog box is usually accomplished by clicking on a standard colour picker tool and looking for an option that says something like More Colors... The two diagrams below show a couple of examples of this:

Choosing More Fill Colors Choosing More Colors
The option you see might be specific to the type of colour you're choosing - such as fill colours. Or it might be just a general More Colors... option like this one.

Once you've opened the Colors dialog box you'll usually find two tabs: one called Standard, and the other called Custom.

The Standard tab The Custom tab
There are 144 colours on the Standard tab - these are made up of 127 colours in the hexagon, and 17 shades of grey at the bottom. The Custom tab gives you access to 16,777,216 colours in total!

In Microsoft Publisher you'll also find a third tab called PANTONE, but you'll learn more about that later.

At this point you can simply click on a colour in the dialog box and choose OK to select it, as shown below:

Choosing colours on the Custom tab

1. Click on a colour in the grid.


What's Next

Now that you know a bit about how to choose colours in a basic way, we'll move on to looking at how you can define your colours more accurately using one of the standard color models in Microsoft Office.

  1. Choosing Colours in Microsoft Office (this blog)
  2. Defining Colours Using a Color Model
  3. Colour Quirks in Specific Applications
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