Change the Display Color in Word

Use color to add interest to your Word document

Many Word documents are viewed digitally rather than printed, so there's no reason to be shy about adding color. Here are some of the color changes you can make in Word.

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

A person changing the color of a font on a Windows computer
Lifewire / Derek Abella

Change the Background Color of a Word Document

The background of a Word document can be virtually any color, whether based on the document theme or from an expanded color wheel.

  1. Open the Word document in which you want to change the background color.

  2. Go to the Design tab.

    In Word 2010, go to Page Layout > Page Color.

    Word with the Design tab highlighted
  3. Select Page Color to display a list of color options available as background tints.

    Word's Design tab with the Page Color option highlighted
  4. Select the color you want from Standard Colors or Theme Colors.

    Page Color menu in Word with Theme Colors and Standard Colors highlighted
  5. To add a custom color, select More Colors.

    Page Color menu in Word with the More Colors option highlighted
  6. Select a color from the wheel and choose OK.

    More colors menu in Word with the OK button highlighted
  7. To remove a page color, select Page Color and choose No Color.

    The Page Color menu in Word with the No Color option highlighted

The document background isn't limited to solid colors. Add a pattern, texture or image as a background. To do this, select Fill Effects and select Gradient, Texture, Pattern or Picture. When you are in the correct section, select the options you want to apply.

Fill Effects window in Word

Change the Text Color in Microsoft Word

Using colorful text in a document is an easy way to draw attention to parts of the document. Change all or part of the text to colors other than black.

  1. Select the text you want to work with.

  2. Go to the Home tab.

    Word with the Home menu highlighted
  3. Select the Font Color drop-down arrow to open the Font Color menu. 

    Word with the Text Color menu highlighted
  4. Hover over the colors to see a preview of the color on the selected text.

  5. To see additional colors, chose More Colors.

    Word with the More Colors option highlighted
  6. In the Colors dialog box, choose the color you want to apply to the selected text.

    The Colors window in Word
  7. Select OK.

Highlight Text in Color

Another way to emphasize important information in your document is to highlight it.

  1. Select the text you want to highlight.

  2. Go to the Home tab and select the Text Highlight Color drop-down arrow to display the Highlight Color menu.

    Word with the highlight color menu highlighted
  3. Select any color in the menu to apply the highlighting effect to the selected text.

    Highlighted text in a Word document
  4. Select No Color to remove the highlighting.

    Highlight Color menu in Word with the No Color option highlighted

If you have a great deal of text to highlight, change the cursor into a highlighter. Go to the Home tab, select the Text Highlight Color drop-down arrow, choose a color, then drag over the lines of text you want to highlight.

Apply a Standard Color Theme

Microsoft Word ships with several standard Color Themes you can choose for your document. To see them, go to the Design tab and select Colors. The color palette in the upper-left corner shows the color theme currently in use, but you can select from any of the options displayed in the window for your document. 

Word with the Colors menu highlighted

Apply a Custom Color Theme

Create a custom color theme if you want exciting warm colors, friendly neutrals, or calming cool colors.

  1. Go to the Design tab and select Colors, then select Customize Colors.

  2. Select the arrow next to any of the colors in the current theme to display a Theme Colors palette where you can select and change colors to customize the theme.

    The Create New Theme Colors dialog box in Word
  3. In the Name text box, enter a descriptive name for the theme.

    The Create New Theme Colors dialog box
  4. Select Save.

Word Document Background Printing Considerations

Microsoft Word no longer sets a background color solely for display (one that you see on screen but that doesn't print). In early versions of Word, you could set the background to blue and the text to white, purely for display, but when the time came to print the document, the text printed as usual without a background tint.

The reasoning for including this option was that the white text on a blue background was easier on the eyes while you worked. However, this option has not been available since Word 2003.

More recent versions of Word have options for changing the colors of background and text, but those colors print out as part of the document.

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