Change the Display Color in Word

Use Color to Add Interest to Your Word Document

Illustration of a person changing the color of a font on a Windows computer

 Lifewire / Derek Abella

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 Microsoft Word 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Word for Office 365.

Change the Background Color of a Word Document

  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.

  3. Select Page Color to display a list of color options available as background tints.

    Screenshot of Page Color menu on Design tab in Word
  4. Select the color you want from Standard Colors or Theme Colors.

  5. To add custom color, click More Colors and choose a color.

  6. To remove a page color, select No Color from the Page Color panel.

You aren't limited to solid colors for the document background. You can 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, click on the options you want to apply.

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. Microsoft gives you the controls to 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 and click the Font Color drop-down indicator to bring up the Font Color menu. 

    Screenshot of Font Color menu
  3. As you move your mouse over the colors, you can see a preview of the color on the text you have selected.

  4. To see additional colors, chose More Colors at the bottom of the menu to open the Colors dialog box.

    Screenshot of Colors box
  5. Click on the color you want to apply to the selected text.

Highlight Text in Color

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

  1. Select the text you plan to highlight.

  2. Go to the Home tab and select the Text Highlight Color drop-down indicator to bring up the Highlight Color menu.

    Screenshot of Text Highlight Color in Word
  3. Select any color in the menu to apply the highlighting effect to the selected text.

  4. Click on "No Color" to remove highlighting.

If you have a great deal of text to highlight, it is faster to change the cursor into a highlighter. Click the "Text Highlight Color" icon in the Highlight Color menu to change the cursor to a highlighter. Then, just click and hold as you 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 in Word 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. 

Screenshot of color themes on Design tab

Apply a Custom Color Theme

If you prefer to create a custom color theme, click Customize Colors at the bottom of the Standard Color window. You may be looking for exciting warm colors, friendly neutrals or calming cool colors.

Select the arrow next to any of the colors in the current theme to bring up a Theme Colors palette where you can select and change colors to customize your theme. To save your custom color theme, type a memorable name in the Name field and click Save.

Screenshot of Create New Theme Colors dialog box

Word Document Printing Considerations

Microsoft Word no longer allows you to set a background color solely for display—one you see on screen but that doesn't print when you run out the document. 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. You haven't been able to do this 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.