How to Apply Background Colors to Tables in Word

Color fill a table

In Microsoft Word, you can apply a background color to an entire table or to specific portions of a table. This is helpful when you want to highlight a part of a table. For example, if you’re working with sales figures, apply a different color to a column, row, or cell that contains totals. Sometimes, using tinted rows or columns makes a complex table easier to read.

Instructions in this article apply to Microsoft Word for Microsoft 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.

Add a Table With Shading

To create a new table and color it before entering data into it:

  1. On the ribbon, go to the Insert tab and select the Table drop-down arrow.

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

    Screenshot of Insert Table
  3. On the Table Design tab, select a border style, size, and color.

    Screenshot of Pen Color in Borders group
  4. Select the Borders drop-down arrow and choose the borders you want to apply. Or, select Border Painter to draw on the table to indicate which cells should be colored.

Add Color to a Table With Borders and Shading

To format an existing table with a background color:

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

  2. Right-click one of the selected cells.

    Screenshot of right-click menu on selected table cells
  3. Select Borders and Shading.

    Screenshot of Borders and Shading in right-click menu
  4. Select the Shading tab.

    Screenshot of Shading tab on Borders and Shading dialog box
  5. Select the Fill drop-down arrow to open the color chart, then choose a background color.

    Screenshot of Fill menu on Borders and Shading
  6. Select the Style drop-down arrow, then choose a tint percentage or a pattern in the chosen color.

  7. Select the Apply to drop-down arrow, then choose Cell to apply the chosen color only to the highlighted cells. Or, choose Table to fill the entire table with the background color.

    Screenshot of Apply to drop-down list
  8. Select OK.

Add Color With Page Borders Design Tab

To use the Design tab to add any color to a table:

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

  2. Select the Design tab.

    Screenshot of Design tab
  3. In the Page Background group, select Page Borders.

  4. Select the Shading tab.

    Screenshot of Page Borders in Page Background group of Design tab
  5. Select the Fill drop-down arrow, then choose a color from the color chart.

    Screenshot of Fill menu on Borders and Shading
  6. Select the Style drop-down arrow, then choose a percentage of tint or a pattern.

  7. Select the Apply to drop-down arrow and choose Cell to add the background tint to the selected cells. Or, choose Table to fill the entire table with the background color.

    Screenshot of Apply to drop-down list