How to select more highlight colors in Word

If you color-code the text in your Word documents, you may feel constrained by the 15 Highlight Color choices:

Highlight colors

Fortunately, there’s another command available if you want to expand your color palette: Shading. The button is not far from the Highlight Color selector on the Word toolbar: It’s just about seven spots to the right over in the Paragraph section:

Shading colors

You can use More Colors to select from the expanded Colors dialog:

Standard Colors

Or even enter custom RGB values if you like:

Custom Colors

This feature is available in both Word 2007 and Word 2010.

A couple of small cautions: If you use my tip for hiding highlighter marks, any text with Shading will still be displayed and printed. Also, you’ll have to remove Shading separately from Highlighting – simply select your target text and choose No Color for each.


Comments (23)

  1. Kim Black says:

    With the text highlighting, I can highlight the bullets.  However, with shading, it won't highlight the bullets.  Any way I can highlight the bullets using shading?

  2. Sue Berkery says:

    Thank you for this very clear info.

  3. Phil says:

    Thanx. The problem I still have is that MS Word 10 extends the highlight color across the entire line (page row) rather than just highilghting the text only.  Is there a way to avoid this?  

  4. alex says:

    It doesn't highlight the same way I want it to. Rather than highlighting just the text itself, the shading thing draws a huge, colored rectangle around the entire text body, thus highlighting the spaces between each word and paragraph. Not exactly the same 🙁

  5. Nancy says:

    I wish Microsoft would increase color options to include some pastel colors under the highlighting tool!  It is difficult to see black font with some of the available colors.  I don't want to go through the fuss of using shading mechanism….  Microsoft-pls provide an option to custom these colors.  Thank you!.  

  6. John5025 says:

    ^Did you try selecting the text you wanted to shade first before shading? Because that worked for me.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I tried the above and also had the entire paragraph highlighted, not a section of text in the paragraph

  8. Wayne says:

    i agree with nancy. colors are too dark/heavy and its hard to see black text. opaqueness settings?

  9. mdlueck says:

    Thank you, Suzanne100!!! Word 2007 was driving me crazy showing me my custom Highlight color (salmon pink) and when I would select it, Word 2007 took it upon itself to highlight in red.

  10. chirpy says:

    ^Did you try selecting the text you wanted to shade first before shading? Because that worked for me.

    It worked for me too

  11. omi in fiji says:

    Awesome! Just what I was looking for and found it just a google search away 🙂 Truly grateful 🙂

  12. amerisys1 says:

    Selecting the text is very touchy, if you select past the text at all you will get the entire line highlighted.  The cursor has to be just past the last character

  13. amittjain says:

    To avoid shading the entire line, Shift + Enter creates a line break.

  14. noraperl says:

    Thanks so much.  I've been looking for a way to access more highlighter colors.  Your tip is great!

  15. word says:

    Great tip – even older versions of Microsoft Word have the shading tool in the format tab!

  16. Chima says:

    Thank you very much… imagine not noticing this all these decades 😉

  17. MircoFranzago says:

    Great, it works! Just what I was searching. Thank you!

  18. Paul Vickery says:


    I wonder if any one can help. I was searching for a way to change a text highlight of as soon as you start typing? I am producing a protected document with Fill-in enabled cells. I have picked this document up from someone. So at the moment the Fill-in cells have a small grey highlighted box (1.5ch approx.) to show the end user where they will fill in their replies. As soon as you stay to type the grey highlighted box extends with the type. Im wondering if there is either a way for the box to disappear as soon as you begin to to type. However the box would have to re-appear if you deleted all the type in that call.



  19. Allison says:

    Brilliant – exactly what I was looking for, and so easy!

  20. asd says:


  21. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much, this is so helpful for my thesis

  22. Atulya says:

    Thank you so much! For so long I have despaired over those old colors.

  23. Birgitte says:

    my documents contains text highlighted with different colors ( let say yellow and blu )

    How can select only text highlighted with yellow ?