How to Add Background Color to Tables in Microsoft Word

347786 How to Add Background Color to Tables in Microsoft Word

Adding background color to tables in Word can make your documents more visually appealing and easier to read. Whether you want to highlight specific cells or entire tables, it’s a great way to organize and emphasize important information.

In this article, I’ll walk you through several methods to color table backgrounds in Word, using the latest versions for Windows.

Why Add Color to Word Tables?

Before jumping into the how-to steps, let’s look at some of the benefits of using color in Word tables:

  • Draws attention – Colored cells or tables instantly grab the reader’s focus compared to plain white backgrounds. This allows you to highlight key data.
  • Organizes information – Alternating row colors can help separate data visually, while colored columns can categorize types of information.
  • Enhances readability – Subtle background colors can prevent eye strain when reading large tables full of text and numbers.
  • Adds visual appeal – A splash of color livens up monotonous black-and-white tables for more attractive, professional documents.

Now that you know why table color can be useful, let’s look at how to implement it in Word.

Method 1: Use Table Styles

Table Styles provide pre-designed formats that you can apply to instantly change the look of a table. Here’s how:

  1. Click inside the table you want to format.
  2. Go to the Design tab on top.
  3. In the Table Styles section, click the More arrow to open the full gallery.
  4. Hover over each style to preview colors and designs.
  5. Click a style to apply it to the table.

The benefit here is that Table Styles often include colored rows and columns, borders, header formatting, etc. So it’s a quick way to get an elegant, professionally designed look.

You can also create custom styles with your preferred colors and table elements formatted.

Method 2: Use Shading

For more granular control over exactly which cells get color and which stay white, use the Shading tool:

  1. Select the cells to shade:
  • Entire table: Click the table move handle in the top-left corner
  • Row or column: Click the header
  • Individual cells: Click and drag across cells
  1. Go to Design > Shading > choose a Theme Color.
  2. To use custom colors, click More Colors at the bottom.
  3. Click the cells in the color matrix to set a custom RGB color.

The Shading route gives you precise control over coloring table backgrounds in Word.

Method 3: Use Borders and Shading

There is another way to access custom background colors for tables in Word:

  1. Select the cells to shade.
  2. Right-click a selected cell.
  3. Choose Borders and Shading.
  4. Click the Shading tab.
  5. Click the Fill dropdown and select a color.
  6. Choose the tint percentage in Style if needed.
  7. Select whether to apply the fill color to the entire table or just selected cells under Apply to.
  8. Click OK when done.

This method gives you additional options compared to using the Shading button directly.

Method 4: Use Page Color

You can also color the entire background of a Word table with a page color or fill effect:

  1. Click inside the table.
  2. Go to Design > Page Color > Fill Effects.
  3. Choose Gradient, Texture, or Pattern.
  4. Click a color palette preset or create a custom fill.
  5. Click OK to apply it.

The Page Color option is best for styling an entire table background cohesively in one step.

Customize Further Table Formatting

After adding background color to cells or entire tables in Word, you can customize the look even further:

  • Add borders – Accent colored cells with lines in Design > Borders
  • Bold headers – Emphasize column/row labels by selecting them and using Ctrl + B
  • Align text – Improve readability with centered, left, or right-aligned text
  • Change text color – Ensure high contrast between text and background colors

Take advantage of all the formatting tools Word provides to optimize tables!


Coloring Word tables is a simple way to transform boring black-and-white grids into visually striking sections that draw readers’ eyes.

As you learned, there are several routes to add background color:

  • Instant designs with Table Styles
  • Precise cell shading with Shading
  • More options through Borders and Shading
  • Cohesive backgrounds via Page Color

So try out these tips the next time you want to make a table pop! Feel free to mix and match techniques to create custom, colorful tables tailored to your document’s needs.