How to get more colors in excel chart – simple trick

Posted on April 9th, 2008 in Charts and Graphs , hacks , ideas , Learn Excel , technology - 11 comments

how to get more colors in excel charts, beating excel chart color limitation - how to
Here is a simple to trick to beat the 56 color limitation in excel when you are designing a chart: use picture files (jpg, gif, png etc.) to fill the chart area.

You will no longer have to worry about limiting your project report / website / annual report etc. colors to the 56 that excel has.

1 + 3 steps to get more colors in excel charts:

  1. First create a 1*1 pixel sized image of the color you want to use in excel. You can use any software like MS Paintbrush to do this, all you need is the hex code or rgb of the color you want. Visit colour lovers if you are looking for cool color ideas.
  2. Right click on any of your chart data points and select format data point
    excel tip to get more colors in a chart
  3. In the dialog select “fill effects”
    how do I get more colors in microsoft excel spreadsheet?
  4. Finally, go to “Picture” tab in fill effects and specify your picture file path.
    how to enable more than 56 colors in ms excel
    OK your changes. Thats all, now your charts have any color your want.

Also: Download 73 beautiful excel chart templates | Art of excel charting | Become a conditional formatting pro

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11 Responses to “How to get more colors in excel chart – simple trick”

  1. Jon Peltier says:

    Another way to color the bars or columns in a chart is to draw a rectangle in the sheet (make it larger than the bar it will be used to format). Double click the rectangle to open the Format Autoshape dialog. Format the shape to have no line, and under fill color, choose More Colors, and define the color you want. When done, copy the rectangle, select the series of columns (bars) or the specific column (bar), and use Ctrl+V to paste the shape.

  2. […] This is the simplest part. We will create a thermometer outline by drawing a circle and a rounded rectangle. See the illustration to the right to understand. Next we will fill the circle with our favorite color. Not that excel presents us with may choices, but I choose the light green, the kind that you see on the Starbucks small size cups. Oh btw, learn how to tweak excel chart color limitation to add your own colors. […]

  3. Ally S says:

    Er… Isn’t it much easier than this? Why don’t you just change the default colour options in Excel? Tools > Options > Color > Modify… And just change the RGB values of the default colours! Isn’t that much better?

  4. […] color in your favorite image editor. Then specify these images as fill images (learn more about overcoming 56 color limitation in excel). You now have excel charts that are bold and […]

  5. […] More on Excel Colors : How to surpass the 56 color limit in excel 2003 and earlier ? […]

  6. Meic Goodyear says:

    This works a treat in Excel 2003. I used the method to fill areas on a pie chart (don’t start..)the chart look perfect, but when I use Copy Picture/as shown when printed an dpaste the pictue into any MS Office document (including the same worksheet just to check) the cours are corrupted, and each segment has quit unwanted graduated shading.
    When I paste into Wordpad the colours are fine.
    Is this a known issues?

  7. Chandoo says:

    @Meic… Can you try copying the chart (ctrl+c) and pasting special in word / ppt. Use ALT+ES and then select “Enhanced Metafile” or “Bitmap” option to get better clarity of the chart. In the worst case, just do a print screen and paste that in to word and then crop whatever you want.

  8. Erin says:

    Thanks much for the great work around, which is perfect for certain types of charts; since you can’t have the border color exactly match the image color, I can’t use this for 3-d pie charts

  9. Justin says:

    Hi sir good work for the creative mind

  10. Lee says:

    Very creative. Especially if there is a specific color you want and already have an image of.

  11. […] Excel (2003 and earlier) has a limitation of 56 colors. We all have been living with that for a while now. But what if you need to tweak the colors to suit your company’s color scheme without spending too much time on it. Simple. Just change the colors for the current workbook by going to Menu > Tools > Options > Color and define your own RGB values for each of the colors. Alternative you can try this hack to get more colors in your charts. […]

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