How to Apply Background Colors to Tables in Word

In Microsoft Word, you can apply a background color to an entire table or even just to specific portions of a table. This is helpful when you want to highlight a portion of a table.

For example, if you’re working with sales figures, you may want to apply a different color to a column, row, or cell that contains totals. Sometimes, tinted rows or columns are used to make a complex table easier to read.

Animated illustration of changing excel cell colors
Lifewire / Kyle Fewel

Add a Table With Shading

  1. Click the Insert tab on the ribbon and select the Tables tab.

  2. Drag your cursor across the grid to choose how many rows and columns you want in the table.

  3. In the Table Design tab, click on Borders.

  4. Select a border style, size, and color.

  5. Choose the borders you want to apply from the drop-down menu under Borders or click on Border Painter to draw on the table to indicate which cells should be colored.

Add Color to a Table With Borders and Shading

  1. Highlight the cells you want to tint with a background color. Use the Ctrl key (Command on a Mac) to select non-contiguous cells.

  2. Right-click on one of the selected cells.

  3. On the pop-up menu, select Borders and Shading.

  4. Open the Shading tab.

  5. Click the drop-down menu under Fill to open the color chart to select a background color.

  6. From the Style drop-down menu select a tint percentage or a pattern in the chosen color.

  7. Choose Cell in the Apply to drop-down box to apply the chosen color only to the highlighted cells. Selecting Table fills the entire table with the background color.

  8. Click OK.

Add Color With Page Borders Design Tab

  1. Click on the Design tab on the ribbon.

  2. Highlight the table cells to which you want to apply the background color.

  3. Click the Page Borders tab and select Shading.

  4. In the drop-down menu under Fill, select a color from the color chart.

  5. Select a percentage of tint or a pattern from the Style drop-down menu.

  6. Leave the Apply to setting at Cell to add the background tint to the selected cells.