Understanding Themes in Excel

Microsoft created themes to make spreadsheets visually appealing with consistant fonts and colors in workbooks

Excel installs with a series of themes that are available to select or change for each spreadsheet.

The themes manage both colors and fonts and a bunch of other “objects” and are easily changeable within Excel (no Coding Involved). The defaults are referred to as Xlautomatic in color picker1 and in VBA

The Color Pallet changed with differant versions of Excel

Examples of defaults from my computer with Office 365

Theme Cell Fonts Shape Color
Office Calibri Blue           Changing Themes in Office 365
Badge Gill Sans Mt Gold
Banded Corbel Red
Basic Corbel Green
Berlin Trebuchet Ms Orange
Celestial Cabibri Green
Circuit Tw Cen Mt Green
Crop Franklin Gothic Book Gray
Damask Rockwell Green
Depth Corbel Blue
Droplet Two Cen Ms Blue
Facet Trebuchet Ms Green
Feathered Calibri Navy
Frame Corbel Aqua
Gallery Gill Sans Ms Red
Headlines Corbel Blue                     Table Color Choices
Integral Tw Cen Mt Aqua
Ion Century Gothic Red
Ion Boardroom Century Gothic Red
Main Event Impact Red
Mesh Century Gothic Black
Metropolitan Calibri Light Aqua
Organic Garamond Green
Parallax Corbel Blue
Parcel Gill Sans Mt Orange
Quotable Century Gothic Aqua
Retrospect Calibi Orange
Savon Century Gothic Blue
Slice Century Gothic Blue
View Century School Book Black
Wisp Century Gothic Red
Wood Type Rockwell Red

      I compared these Themes to the Themes in Excel 2007 and only one of the Themes, "Office", was in both Versions

      Overall, Office 365 had 32 Themes;       Excel 2007 had 20 Themes

How does Excel create 63 colors in Color Picker1 when there are only 6 "accent" that can be changed?
Excel uses "shading" to create the other colors + the Original Colors + Gray Scale

For Shapes and Text Boxes

All the new Shapes (and Text Boxes) will be this color when first Inserted into a worksheet
The default color can be modified by changing Accent 3 in Themes

An intersting Exercise: add 3 shapes to a worksheet in columns G, H, and I

The 3 shapes all start off with the same Fill Color

Change shape2 with Color Picker1 and Shape3 with Color Picker3
Then watch the screen as you hover over different Themes

The Color of Shape3 is based on the RGB code (not Themes) and doesn't change when the Themes change

The Color of Shape1 changes - based the new color of Accent3
The Color or Shape2 also changes but based on the new Color Pallet

Changing Themes, without a complete understanding, produces unexpects results

For Tables

The choice of colors, in Tables, can only be changed by changeing Themes

There are 60 different built-in Color schemes based on the 6 Accent Colors + Grey Scale

Tables are a quick ans easy way to produce colorful and visually appealing reports

All the issues / problems that exist with Themes carry over in Tables and there are more Trade-off's involving conditional formatting

Conditional formatting gives you greater control over the appearance in reports but can cause conflicts with tables

The Workaround is to use shading in the tables and use different Color Fonts in conditional formating

Conditional formating can with, some work, produce better results.

Other “Objects” that change are the Hyperlink Colors, Shape Borders Colors, Graph Objects and the Color Pallet in Color Picker1

"Objects" that do not change are Tab Color, Cell Fill Color, Cell Font Color, Comment Color


How important is appearance in making a presentation or in a report?

Sometimes it can be very important

Branding is a Marketing concept about associating a product with differant objects (colors), Trademarks, and people

When you see the object ---> you will think of the Brand ---> you will buy the Brand

Themes with-in office are designed to work together. The office Theme in Excel should produce the same Colors and Fonts as the Office Theme in Word and the same Colors and Fonts as the office Theme in Power Point

But, what if you need an exact match with another group of programs like Adobe?

My answer is Colorme Here is the link to explain

Problems with themes

Microsoft hasn't published what changes when the themes are changed or new themes are added
You basically need to check by trial-and-error

Microsoft does not consider it a problem since users can alway select the Colors from one of the 3 built-in Color Pickers

The same spreadsheet will look totally different on computers with different / changed themes

There are 2 work-arounds

Pick the colors manually from the color picker3 and not use defaults (xlautomatic)
Print to a pdf and send the pdf instead of an excel file

Contact me at 631-544-5120 or through Email at Natalie@functionstogo.com