What To Do if You Can’t Change Font Color in Excel

Microsoft Excel is a helpful business tool that allows you to use spreadsheets for data analysis, visualization, and computation. When organizing your spreadsheets, color coding can be an integral identification device. However, with any application, there are times when certain actions can not be performed, like changing the font color.

Not being able to effectively categorize your spreadsheet could make keeping track of data more difficult. Color-coding your information saves time and makes it more understandable for others viewing your spreadsheet. Fortunately, there are ways to troubleshoot Microsoft Excel to ensure you can change the font color. Keep reading for ways to fix this problem.

4 Ways To Fix Excel Not Allowing You To Change Font Color

Fixing the issue with font color changes could be as simple as ensuring you’re following the correct steps to perform this action. If the problem is not a result of a lack of proper instruction, there are troubleshooting steps you can take to get Excel working correctly again.

1. Follow the Proper Instructions

It may seem obvious to those who have used Excel before, but for novice Excel users, some instruction may be necessary when figuring out the best way to change the font color within a cell.

For this approach, you’ll utilize the tabs and icons on the top of the Excel spreadsheet:

  1. First, select the text you would like to change— this could be an entire cell or a single word within the text.
  2. Once you’ve selected the text, click on the “Home” tab above the spreadsheet. The second group in the “Home” toolbar is geared toward fonts.
  3. Look for the icon with the letter “A” and a thick underline beneath it.
  4. Click on the arrow to the right of the icon, and a dropdown menu will appear with a library of color selections.
  5. Find the color you desire and select it. Your text selection should change automatically.

If you don’t see the color you want, click on the “More Colors” option at the bottom of the dropdown menu and find the color using the color wheel.

If Excel does not change the font color after following these instructions, move on to the first troubleshooting step.

2. Unprotect Spreadsheet in Excel to Change Font Color

You may not be aware that the spreadsheet you’re working on is protected, especially if the sheet was sent to you. While the sheet is protected, you will not be able to change the font color.

To fix this issue, you need to unprotect the sheet:

  1. At the top of the spreadsheet, click on the “Review” tab and navigate to the “Protect” group.
  2. In this group, you have the option to protect and unprotect a spreadsheet.
  3. Select “Unprotect Sheet” and navigate to your “Home” tab.

Now you can follow the instructions for changing the font color from the previous section. If this fix doesn’t address the problem, move on to the next troubleshooting step.

3. Make Sure Hardware Graphics Acceleration is Disabled

This fix addresses an issue that may arise if you have an external monitor or other device connected to your main device. Font changes in Excel may not be possible due to the hardware graphics acceleration.

If that is the case, you need to disable the hardware graphics acceleration to make changes in Excel:

  1. The first tab above your spreadsheet in Excel should be “File,” select and navigate to “Options.”
  2. From the list of options on the left side of the “Excel Options” display box, select “Advanced.”
  3. Under “Display,” check the box next to “Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration,” then “Ok” or “Apply.”

Now you can navigate to your “Home” tab and follow the instructions for changing the font color from the first section.

If this fix doesn’t apply to you or doesn’t address the problem, move on to the last troubleshooting step.

4. Clear Conditional Formatting in Excel to Change Font Color

If you find that you can change the font color in some cells but not in others, you may be dealing with conditional formatting. If this is the case, Excel will not allow you to make any changes to the color of the font.

If you’re unsure whether conditional formatting applies to your problem; test the cells first. Select the cell or group of cells and attempt to change the font color.

If it doesn’t work, try the following steps:

  1. Go to your “Home” tab, and next to the “Font” grouping, you will see an option called “Conditional Formatting.”
  2. Select the arrow to the right of this option, and a dropdown menu will appear.
  3. In the menu, find “Clear Rules” and hit the arrow to the right of it.
  4. A second dropdown menu will appear, select “Clear Rules for Entire Sheet.

Now you can navigate to your “Home” tab and follow the instructions for changing the font color. 

If this fix does not correct the problem, you may want to consider saving your work and restarting the application or uninstalling and reinstalling.


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