Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Copying Fill Color in a Table.

Copying Fill Color in a Table

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 23, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


April has a table in her Word document. One row is formatted with a custom color fill to match the company's logo color. April now wants to copy that fill color to other rows. She was hoping to use the Format Painter, but that just copies the text format, not the fill color used in the table cells. April wonders if there is a way to copy the fill color from one row to another.

There are a few ways that you can approach this issue. One is to simply use the tools that are available in Word. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the row that is already filled with the desired color.
  2. Display either the Home tab of the ribbon or the Table Design tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the down-arrow to the right of the Shading tool. (The tool looks like a spilling bucket of paint.) Word displays a palette of colors.
  4. Click on More Colors. Word displays the Colors dialog box. The color of the selected row should already show in the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Colors dialog box.

  6. Click OK. (Note that you made no changes in the dialog box; you just clicked OK.)
  7. Select the other rows in the table whose background color you want to change.
  8. Click on the Shading tool you used in step 3. (Don't click the down-arrow next to the tool. Click the tool itself.) Your desired color is applied to the selected rows.

After you apply the desired color, if you want to apply it elsewhere (perhaps in another table or in some cells you missed), all you need to do is select the cells and press F4. The shading is repeated on the selected cells.

If you need to do this quite a bit with a number of tables or in a number of documents, you may want to consider using a macro to do the shading. A handy little macro is the one below:

Sub ShadeTable()
    Dim backColor As Long
    Dim foreColor As Long

    If Selection.Information(wdWithInTable) Then
        With Selection.Tables(1)
            backColor = .Cell(1, 1).Shading.BackgroundPatternColor
            foreColor = .Cell(1, 1).Shading.ForegroundPatternColor
            .Shading.BackgroundPatternColor = backColor
            .Shading.ForegroundPatternColor = foreColor
        End With
    Else
        MsgBox "Put the insertion point in a table"
    End If
End Sub

The macro shades an entire table based on the shading used in the first cell of the first row of the table. All you need to do is make sure you place the insertion point somewhere within the table before running it.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10932) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Copying Fill Color in a Table.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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