In excel, cannot figure out why background color for a cell will not change?

All we need is an easy explanation of the problem, so here it is.

Ok, so I inherited an excel workbook full of excel forms to modify. I am not the original author of the form. I cannot for the life of me figure out why it wont let me change the background color of certain cells.

The form has the cells colored where user input is required. I simply want to change this background color. I am using Excel 2007 on Windows XP, but this form was orginally created with an older version of excel.

Steps taken so far:

  • Worksheet is unlocked
  • Workbook is unlocked
  • cell is unlocked
  • any attempts to change the background color from (right click ‘format cells’ and ribbon controls). It looks like it changes it in the settings, but you say ok and it doesn’t apply.
  • No VB code that affects the color of cells
  • Cannot not see any data validation that would even affect a cell color. (Maybe I am missing something?)

I do notice that once input is put the cell, the color of the cell will change to white. Is thier some data validation that can change cell color once content is inputed?

Any ideas?

How to solve :

I know you bored from this bug, So we are here to help you! Take a deep breath and look at the explanation of your problem. We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first method because it is tested & true method that will 100% work for you.

Method 1

Did you check for conditional formatting? It is harder to change.

Not sure where it is at in Excel 2007, but the mac version has it under:

Format => Conditional Formatting

From the comments we have a way for Excel 2007:

Ah ha! I found a condition string for
that cell. The condition formatting
option is under the “Home” tab of the
ribbon, not in data or formulas. – Troggy

Method 2

ctrl +A to bring forward the “clear format options” icon (as shown in the image below) by double-clicking on format painter after selecting the whole sheet.

enter image description here

Method 3

To work around this problem, turn off the high-contrast
Accessibility Options. To do this:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click Accessibility Options.
  4. On the Display tab, click to clear the
    Use High Contrast check box.
  5. Click OK to close the Accessibility Options dialog box.

My Excel now lets me fill cells at will.

Note: Because there are several versions of Microsoft Windows, these steps may be different on your computer.

Method 4

Here is a simple solution:

Select the cell, and just do Ctrl + \ (Clear Formatting)

or , you can select the cell , go to Format in the top menu, and then select Clear Formatting.


Note: Use and implement method 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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