5. Changing the Chart Colour Scheme

Subtitles Enabled
Replay Lesson

Next lesson: Adding Labels to Column Charts

Watch next lesson


By default, Excel's colour scheme is not easy on the eye. Let's change this by creating our own colour scheme and saving it as a template for future use.

Lesson Notes

Why change the colour scheme in charts?

- The default Excel colour scheme in charts is not easy to view
- You will often want to change it to a colour scheme that's more palatable
- This could often be your company's own colour template

Changing to a pre-selected colour scheme

- Excel has a number of colour schemes created out-of-the-box
- Select your chart and go the Design tab in the ribbon
- Under chart styles, simply pick the style you wish to use

Creating your own colour scheme

1 On a chart, change the fill of each data series to its desired colour
2 Once your chart is complete, go to the Design tab in the ribbon
3 Click the Save as Template option and give the template a name
4 To apply this colour scheme to another chart, select the new chart and go to Design tab
5 Click the Change Chart Type option and select a template from the templates folder


By default, the color scheme that Excel provides in charts is not ideal. Typically you'll want to change the colors of your chart to make the charts more readable or to be allied to your company's color template. The easiest way to change the color format of your charts is to go to the Design Tab in the Ribbon when the chart is selected and pick one of the preformatted styles under the charts style's dropdown. To see the full list, I'll click on this button. And when you click on a style, your chart will update accordingly.

If you're not happy with these preformatted styles, you can also add your own style by manually changing the color of each data series. I like to use the data series that starts with the very dark blue color and ends with a very light blue color. So I'll select the bottom data series. Right, click and change the full color to a very dark blue.

I'll then select the next data series and repeat for a slightly lighter color. And then I'll repeat this off camera for the remaining two data series.

Once you're happy with the chart's color scheme it'll be great to save this format so that we don't have to perform these color changes every time we create a new chart in the future. So we'll save it as a template. To do this, select the chart and go to Save As template.

And I'll call this Blue Stacked Column Template, and then I'll save.

If we want to apply this template to a chart, I'll simply go to that chart, make sure it's selected, change chart type, go to Templates and select the Blue Stacked Column template. Then press OK. And as you can see, the axis and the colors are changed according to my original template. Creating templates can be a pretty big time saver, particularly if you use the same color scheme in all of your charts. When I'm building charts, I tend to use flash 2-dimensional designs without any borders. Because I find these the easiest to read. In the Chart Styles tab, there're a lot of other options available including 3D, Borders and even with a black background. I'd encourage you to experiment with these options until you find the style that best suits your needs.