MS Excel 2003 Custom Colors, Custom Chart Colors & Custom Color Palette

Apply RGB colors / custom colors/ custom color palette to MS Excel charts and text.

Excel custom chart color

Updated article for Excel 2010: Excel 2010 Custom Colors
The article below was written for Excel 2003; it’s still accurate and useful for Excel 2003 users. If you’re using Excel 2010, please click on the above link for a more relevant article.

Using consistent colors and color palette across different marketing tools and materials — ads, sale literature, web pages, spreadsheets and charts,… — are significantly important and beneficial. However, most of the time your business colors are not included inside Excel default color palette. If that’s the case, you’ll need to replace the default colors in Excel with your customized color palette. Here’s how:

Create a spreadsheet to hold your custom colors

  • Ctrl N to create a new blank workbook
  • Go to menu Tools / Options > Select the Color tab

    Excel custom color tab

    You’ll see the Modify button which lets you modify default colors and change them to your own colors. You also see 2 different areas, the top is the Standard Color area, and the bottom is the Chart fills and Chart lines.

  • Select a color that you want to modify, in this case it’s the pink color in the Standard colors area. Then, click Modify. A catalog box with 2 tabs will appear. Select the Custom tab

    Excel custom color

  • In the Color Model drop down list, you’ll see RGB [Red, Green, Blue] and HSL [Hue, Saturation, Lightness]. In this example, we use RBG.
  • Enter the RGB values of your color, then click OK, and you have your first custom color in Excel.
  • Repeat the above steps to modify more Standard, Chart Fill/Chart Line colors. When you’re done adding your colors, click Ctrl S to save your file. From now on, when you use Fill color or Font color, you’ll see your newly added colors in the list. If you’ve modified the Chart fill colors, your new chart will be filled with the new colors.

    Excel custom color

  • You can add content to the file, or you can save it empty and use it as your template file.

Re-use colors from your template file

The custom colors that you’ve just added is only for that one file. If you want to apply those colors to other Excel workbook or spreadsheet, you’ll need to import/copy them into the other files.

  • Have both workbooks open: the first one is the one with your custom colors [the template file], and the second one is the one you want to format with the custom colors [the new file].
  • In the new file, go to menu Tools / Options and select the Color tab. However, now look at the bottom section where you find a drop down menu called “Copy color from”
  • Select the template file from the drop-down. After doing that, your custom colors will be added to and available in the the new file.

That’s it! Hope you find it clear and easy to follow.

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