If you add colour to worksheet tabs in Excel, it makes them more visible and help to organize your Workbook.

By default, worksheet tabs that are inactive are coloured in gray, while an active or selected worksheet tab are coloured in white.

When working with multiple worksheets at the same time, you want to be able to differentiate the worksheets easily and one way to achieve this, is not only by labelling them, by also by adding colours to the worksheet tabs in Excel.

So let me show you how you can add colour to a single worksheet tab or multiple worksheet tabs in Excel.

Note: These instructions apply to versions of Excel 2010 – Excel 2019, Office 365, Excel for Mac and Excel Online.

1. Add Colour by Right-Clicking the Sheet Tab

To add a colour to a single worksheet tab,  

1. Right-click on any worksheet tab.

2. Go to Tab Color option, and a palette of Theme Colors and Standard Colors will be displayed in the sub-menu.

3. Click on a colour to select it.

You can hover over a colour palette to preview the colour on the sheet tab.

4. To see more colours, click on More Colors to go to the custom color palette.

2. Add Colour to Worksheet Tabs Using Ribbon.

Another way to add colour to the worksheet tab is by using the commands on the ribbon.

1. Select the worksheet tab to make it active.

2. Go to Home tab and click on Format command.

3. Go to Tab Color and click on a colour on the palette to select a colour.

3. Add Colour to Worksheet Tabs Using Keyboard Keys

You can also add colours to worksheet tabs by using keyboard hot keys. The keyboard hot keys prompt a set of keystrokes that activates the ribbon commands.  

The keyboard shortcut to use is:

               Alt + H + O + T

When the last key in the sequence -T- is pressed and released, it will open the colour sub-menu where you can select a colour from the color palette.

To add colours to the sheet tab using the keyboard:

1. Select a worksheet tab to make it active or use any of these keyboard shortcuts to select a 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 on the keyboard to display the hot keys for the ribbon tabs.

3. Press and release 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 colour palette sub-menu.

The current colour of the tab will be highlighted with an orange border in the palette. Colour white will be highlighted if the tab colour has not been changed before.

6. Select the desired colour.

7. To see more colours, press the M key to open the custom colour palette section.

Note: When a colour is assigned to a worksheet tab, the colour will be displayed in light gradient when the worksheet tab is active. And when the coloured worksheet tab is not active, the colour is displayed in a solid colour.

Add Colour to Worksheet tab in Excel

4. Add Colour to Multiple Worksheet Tabs

You can also add colour to multiple worksheet tabs at once, as long as it’s the same colour.

To add a colour to multiple worksheet tabs, you will need to first select the worksheets that will have the same colour, then select the colour.

Now, the selected sheets can either be:

  • Contiguous: These are sheets that are positioned next to each other such as Sheet1, Sheet2, and Sheet3.

               or

  • Non-contiguous: These are sheets that are not positioned next to each other such as Sheet4 and Sheet6.

4a. Add Colour to Contiguous Worksheet Tabs

Add colour to worksheet tab in Excel

To add colour to multiple sheet tabs positioned next to each other in a row, use the Shift key to select the group.

1. Click on the worksheet tab located in the left end of the group you want to add the colour, to make it active.

2. Press and hold the Shift key.

3. Click on the worksheet tab on the right end of the group you want to add the same colour. This will select all the worksheets between the start and end sheets.

Note: If you select too many worksheets, press and hold down the Shift key, then click on the end sheet.

4. Click on the Home tab -> Format -> Tab Color, and select a colour from the color palette to add the colour to the selected worksheet tabs.

4b. Add Colour to Non-Contiguous Worksheet Tabs

In this case, we want to add the same colour to multiple worksheet tabs that are not close to each other. For this, you will make use of the Ctrl key to select the sheets.

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

2. Hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard and select all the worksheet tabs you want to add the same colour.

3. Then go to Home tab -> Format -> Tab Color and select a colour from the colour palette to add the colour to the selected worksheets.

Note: If you want to deselect a worksheet tab, press and hold down the Ctrl key and then click on the worksheet tab.

5. Remove Colour from Worksheet Tab

To remove tab color from a worksheet tab,

1. Right-click the worksheet tab

2. Go to Tab Color and select No Color.

6. Rules on Tab Color

There are rules that exist with regards to adding tab color and Excel follows these rules when displaying the tab color.

1. When adding a tab color to one worksheet, the worksheet name is underlined in the selected color.

2. When adding tab color to more than one worksheet tab, only the active worksheet tab is underlined in the selected colour.

3. All the other worksheet tabs display only the selected color.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you can check out our other tutorial on Excel Functions and Excel shortcuts.

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