How to Change Worksheet Tab Colors in Excel

Tab colors can help you stay organized within the spreadsheet

Colored file folders arranged alphabetically.

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When you can't find a worksheet because your Excel workbook contains too many worksheets, color code the sheet tabs of individual worksheets. Color-coded worksheets keep large Excel spreadsheet files organized. A system of tab colors provides visual clues to help you locate data quickly.

Instructions in this article apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; Excel for Mac, Excel for Office 365, and Excel Online.

Change Worksheet Tab Colors Using Keyboard Keys or the Mouse

These are the three options to change the sheet tab color of a single worksheet in a workbook:

  • Use keyboard keys.
  • Right-click on the sheet tab (probably the easiest method).
  • Use the Tab Color option on the ribbon.
Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse
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Use Keyboard Hot Keys to Change a Sheet Tab Color

When you use keyboard hot keys to change the tab color, this set of keystrokes activates the ribbon commands. Once the last key in the sequence – the T – is pressed and released, a color palette opens.

The Alt key in the sequence below is not held down while you press the other keys, as with some keyboard shortcuts. Each key is pressed and released in succession.

To change the sheet tab color using the keyboard:

  1. Select a worksheet tab to make it the active sheet. Or, use one of these keyboard shortcuts to select the desired worksheet:

    • Ctrl+PgDn: move to the sheet on the right.
    • Ctrl+PgUp: move to the sheet on the left.
  2. Press and release the Alt key to display the hot keys for the ribbon tabs.

    A screenshot showing the hot keys for the ribbon tabs in Excel
  3. Press and release the H key to display the hot keys for the Home tab.

  4. Press and release the O key to open the Format dropdown list.

  5. Press and release the T key to open the Tab Color color palette.

    A screenshot showing the color palette used to change the tab color for an Excel worksheet

    The current tab color is highlighted (surrounded by an orange border). If you haven't previously changed the tab color, white is selected.

  6. Select the desired color.

    To select a color with the arrow keys, highlight the color you want and press Enter to complete the color change.

  7. To see more colors, press the key to open the custom color palette.

Right-click the Sheet Tab to Change the Tab Color

Here's a quick way to change the color of a sheet tab:

  1. Right-click the tab.

  2. Select Tab Color to open the color palette.

    A screenshot showing the Tab Color color palette used to change the color of a sheet tab in Excel
  3. Click on a color to select it.

    Hover over a color in the color palette to preview the color on the sheet tab.

  4. To see more colors, select More Colors to open the custom color palette.

Change the Tab Color of Multiple Worksheets

To change the sheet tab color for multiple worksheets, first select the worksheets that will be the same color. Then choose a color.

Screenshot of Excel of how to change tab colors

The selected sheets can be:

  • Contiguous: Sheets that are next to each other such as Sheet1, Sheet2, and Sheet3. 
  • Non-contiguous: Sheets that are not next to each other such as Sheet4 and Sheet6.

Select Contiguous Worksheets and Change the Sheet Tab Color

When you want several sheets in a row to use the same tab color, use the Shift key to select the group.

  1. Click the tab of the worksheet located on the left end of the group to be changed to make it the active sheet.

  2. Press and hold the Shift key.

  3. Click the tab of the worksheet on the right end of the group to select all worksheets between the start and end sheets.

    If you select too many sheets, press and hold Shift, then click on the correct end sheet.

  4. Go to Home > Format > Tab Color and select a color from the color palette to change the color of the selected worksheets.

Select Individual Worksheets and Choose a Sheet Tab Color

When you want several worksheets to have the same tab color, but those sheets are not next to each other, use the Ctrl key to choose the sheets.

  1. Click on the tab of the first worksheet to make it the active sheet.

  2. Hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard and click on the tabs of all the worksheets to be changed.

    To deslect a sheet, press and hold the Ctrl key, then click on the sheet tab.

  3. Go to Home > Format > Tab Color and select a color from the color palette to change the color of all selected worksheets.

Tab Color Rules

When you change sheet tab colors, the rules Excel follows in displaying the tab colors are:

  • Changing the tab color for one worksheet: The worksheet name is underlined in the selected color.
  • Changing the tab color for more than one worksheet: The active worksheet tab is underlined in the selected color.
  • All other worksheet tabs display the selected color.