Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Copying Fill Color in a Table.

Copying Fill Color in a Table

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 11, 2017)


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 the Tables and Borders toolbar (click View | Toolbars | Tables and Borders).
  3. Click the down-arrow to the right of the Shading Colors tool on the toolbar. (The tool looks like a spilling bucket of paint.) Word displays a palette of colors.
  4. Click on More Fill Colors. Word displays the Colors dialog box. (See Figure 1.) The color of the selected row should already show in the dialog box.
  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 Colors tool on the Tables and Borders toolbar. 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
        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. This macro is a variation of the macro mentioned at the following website:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10931) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) 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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What is 4 + 4?

2016-11-18 08:29:41


This didn’t work for me. I wrote a small piece of VB to debug.print the hex value of the selected cell, using hex(.Cell(1, 1).Shading.BackgroundPatternColor) and the value returned was 7D491F. The colour I wanted to reproduce was a shade of blue, but when I entered the corresponding decimal values, 125 RED, 73 GREEN, 31 BLUE in the More Colors > Custom screen, it showed a nice shade of brown. I repeated the test for other coloured cells on other tables, the hex value returned matched the colour identically, every time.

But on the one table I wanted to match the colour for, this always returned 7D491F. Then I tried reversing the hex value, so 7D491F became 1F497D, eg 31 RED, 73 GREEN and 125 BLUE and unexpectedly, the colour matched the one in the cell.

So for whatever reason, the value returned using hex(.Cell(1, 1).Shading.BackgroundPatternColor) was reversed, but only on the one table in my document.

Anyway, problem for me was now solved. Just thought I mention this in case anyone else was struggling.

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