Custom Highlight Color in MS Word

11 Apr

Highlight colors in MS Word cannot be customized. There is a better way to choose custom colors for highlight.

Go to “View” and click “Toolbars” and then click “Tables and Borders”.

Select the text you wish to highlight.

Click the “Shading Color” button.

You can choose a number of colors from the drop-down list.

Now you can highlight your text in any color you want.



Posted by on April 11, 2007 in Tricks


61 responses to “Custom Highlight Color in MS Word

  1. Sayali

    February 2, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Thats a great way! But can we have the highlight pen color selected as one of the custom colors? Going through the steps mentioned above every time I need to highlight is a pain 😦

    Thanks in advance!

    • almare2

      July 6, 2011 at 5:28 am

      What you can do is, in the Tables and Borders toolbar, go to Add or Remove Buttons. Eliminate everything except the Shading Color bucket. Then you can slide the bucket icon up next to your other toolbars and use it just as you would the Highlight bucket. That way you don’t have to go through the whole procedure every time. (At least this works in Word 2000; I don’t know if it will work in newer versions.)

      • Marie Ziniti

        July 11, 2011 at 8:21 am

        Excellent. I had to temporarily put in a table to get to it, but it worked GREAT. Thank you. I couldn’t follow the other directions. There is NO toolbar under my “view” tab. Sometimes I miss the OLD MSWord. I could do it all with my eyes closed.

  2. Phoenix

    February 2, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Sayali… that is actually not possible. 😦 That is why we need this alternative.

  3. Bob Thompson

    March 10, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    This doesn’t work actually. It only allows you to highlight an entire paragraph. What if I only want to highlight a single word in a sentence. Can’t do it this way.

    • almare2

      June 29, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      In fact it does work, I just did it.

    • freaker

      May 16, 2013 at 12:52 am

      try using undo once after you do it!

  4. Rob Reid

    March 28, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Bob, actually, and somewhat surprisingly, this technique did work for me when highlighting individual words. I used it under Word 2003 (11.8202.8202) SP3 with perfect results.

  5. Gibby Grant

    April 11, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I like the tip! Worked like a charm for me too. You saved me some time, because a previous article I read on the subject was leading me down the VB scripting path (of course, that article was focused on setting the default highlight color in Word). Thanks again!

  6. Phoenix

    April 12, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Glad it was useful!

  7. Ben

    April 13, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    nice tip! Thanks! Don’t know why MS doesn’t allow customize highlight color…

    Btw, in order to see the result using Phoenix’s method, you need to first *remove* the highlight color you set (if you did), otherwise the highlight color will cover the “Shading Color”. That might be the reason why it didn’t work.

  8. ecco2

    April 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I took Phoenix’s idea a bit further.

    I tabbed in a blank area, selected the blank area and then I used Phoenix’s shading method, and I got blank shading the size of the tabbed area.

    I was then able to paste or type text at the tab stops in the shaded area.

    I then Space barred a blank area, selected the blank area and shaded it I was then able to paste or type text anywhere in the shaded area.

    This is great for a title, a heading or a separator .

    Thanx Phoenix and Word Press,


  9. Phoenix

    June 10, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Hey ecco…that is a nice workaround to stop the whole line from getting shaded! 🙂

  10. Davio

    June 16, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Why not just select the text and then use the ‘shading’ paint bucket fill icon? Ok so you can’t then use the reviewing functions taking advantage of the highlighting function, but it works fine if you just want the visual effect.

  11. Chris Allen

    October 27, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve added the Shading Colour tool to my customized toolbar for ease of access.

    Very useful for marking out awkward stuff in academic articles. A lot of the standard Word highlight colours are just too dark and make the text difficult to read, especially when printed.

  12. Gary

    November 15, 2008 at 5:09 am

    Dang. Why did they include such poor highlighting colors?

    Wait, what if I changed the colors?

    Dang. Can’t do that.

    Wait, maybe I can.

    Google — “word highlight color”

    “Custom Highlight Color in Ms Word” — perfect!

    Dang. It only highlights text in blocks. Go figure.

    Wait, let me check the comments!

    Uh huh, uh huh… YES!

    Click — click – click click — click – click. “print.”


    Yes! It’s perfect! Thanks, guys.

  13. Phoenix

    November 15, 2008 at 9:17 am


    Lol! That was a funny and nice comment. Thanks!

  14. philramble

    November 15, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Mujjrat put up some useful post and became useful to a whole lot of people.

  15. Paul B.

    February 5, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Hey, thanks for this tip. I macroed it and it works well.

    In Word ’03, if your selection includes the ending paragraph mark, the entire para will be shaded. If you back off just that one character, you can shade as much or as little text within a para that you want.

    Gotta wonder why MS chose such lame highlight colors, if indeed they had to limit the number of choices in the first place. A very unnecessary hindering.

  16. Paul B.

    February 5, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    It would be nice to find a way to pick up the currently selected shading color, then the macro would apply that color. That way the persistent color could be changed at will. But I see no way to do that, so I hard-set the macro to use the light turquoise.

    Thanks again.

  17. Doublewide

    July 13, 2009 at 2:19 am

    Great tip, and thanks!

  18. David

    December 6, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Is there a way to do this in Word 2007?

  19. Ryan B

    December 17, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I would like to include in word 2003, after you go Format > borders and shading > shading and click your color, there is a drop down that says Apply To, by selecting paragraph, it shades the whole paragraph selected. By changing the drop down to text, it gets around what Paul B has to do.

    @David: in word 2007, to do this via keyboard, you hit alt, then “H”, then “H” again. You then can use the arrow keys to select your color. Hit enter on the color you want.

    • Karen

      July 6, 2011 at 12:38 am

      This worked!!! Thanks so much!

    • Robert

      February 15, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      @Ryan B AWESOME!!!!

      That totally worked. Thank you so much. I have been trying for too long to get that to work. I found that I have the shading icon in my paragraph section of my Home tab on my ribbon.

  20. David

    December 18, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Super! Thank you, Ryan.

  21. Carla

    January 17, 2010 at 7:36 am

    This was working just fine for me, then suddenly it refuses to let me highlight a single word – just the whole paragraph. Arg!

  22. Joyce

    April 12, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    very helpful guys… thanks a loooooooooooooooooootttt

  23. Capt. Frank

    June 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    This works great!!! Solved a huge problem for me so quickly and easily. Thanks so much…

  24. MarkF

    September 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Unfortunately using Word 2010 I can’t find the ‘toolbars’ and ‘tables and borders.’ I’m still getting used to the differences in the new format.

    • Cyndi

      March 20, 2011 at 12:46 am

      Hey Mark,

      On the HOME tab, in the PARAGRAPH box you should see a little bucket. That’s your SHADE bucket. Just click the dropdown arrow and select your color, or choose MORE COLORS to make your own!

      (This works on individual words, phrases, or whole paragraphs!)

    • maxis

      August 11, 2011 at 10:45 am

      Word 2010, Finnish version

      Alt > O > W

  25. MarkF

    September 29, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I just found it in Word 2010, it’s actually very easy once you find the right buttons. Click on page layout, double click on format painter, highlight the word or words you want colored then go to the font color and choose whatever color you want.

  26. Amir

    October 23, 2010 at 2:37 am

    I think there is a workaround also for Word2010 but you can’t use that workaround for more than one paragraph simultaneously, unless using VBA code:
    1. Select the text you wish to highlight, but make sure no Paragraph sign (Represented as “P” with double line when choosing to show it in Word’s options)is selected, otherwise the whole line will be shaded (not only the selected text).
    In other words, you must select a string that is pure TEXT, not including the extra P sign (or extra ‘Space’ at the end of each of the last paragraph’s line, if Word’s options are set to high the paragraph sign).

    2. In Word’s main tab (“Home”), instead of using the “highlight” on the “font” section, click the down arrow in the “shading” option on the “paragraph” section. This shoud be capabel of being customized to a specific color of your choice.

    Again, Please notice that the text selected should NOT contain more than one paragraph, otherwise it for sure contains the paragraph sign. Please note that even if the text selected is only from ONE paragraph, it should not contain the “New Paragraph” sign which is at the end of that paragraph (Word adds that sign if you press the Enter key in order to start a new paragraph).

    As a result of this restriction, this workaround can only be used for a single paragraph each time, unless using a VBA workaround to bypass it.

    Please note that ignoring what’s written in note 1 will cause the whole paragraph’s width (not only the text) to be shaded.

    Hope this helps,

  27. Jennifer Thomas

    December 4, 2010 at 1:36 am

    I recorded these as macros and put them on a toolbar, too.

    Tip 1 – Remember that you can copy a 16×16 pixel box of the correct color and paste that as the button image to save space on the toolbar.

    Tip 2 – make a macro for UNhighlighting (no fill) because the users were trying to use the MS Highlighting button to remove highlighting which, of course, doesn’t work.

  28. Filiberto Cooksley

    December 15, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Thank you for this awesome text & description of existing question. You’ve turned it out better than any presentation I’ve seen. Also thx for citing my work on it. Your’s takes it higher.

  29. Unicorn

    January 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Highlight feature comes to use when we have a large document, say few hundreds of pages and we want to review only few lines of it, important to us.

    If shading is used we have to scroll through the whole document, to review.

    But, if we highlight the document, can we can easily find the highlighted sections without having to scroll through all those hundreds of pages.
    just by:
    CTRL+F > More > Format > Highlight —> Find Next

    Just so shading actually does not solve the problem of custom highlight 😦

    • maxis

      August 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

      Sad but true

  30. Vivian

    February 22, 2011 at 9:01 am

    thanks a bunch. I needed to highlight in word for an assignment but the default highlighting colors woulld have surely blinded my English instructor. 🙂

    • maxis

      August 11, 2011 at 10:35 am

      The original highlight colors are amazingly bad and I am amazed why they have not been developed any. The colors have been untouched since the first garage version of MS Word.

      Probably they were fine with first monitors..

  31. Ashley Rizzuti

    March 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Awesome web site yo have btw

  32. Randell Braga

    April 16, 2011 at 1:13 am

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thankyou for posting.

  33. PJ Merrill

    April 22, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Take this one step further if you go to Windows and op to have your default page color as something other than white, like a light blue, gray, tan, etc., then you can shade words in white. This can be used as a prompt to change certain text in a template, etc. You can also insert white text. For instance, in transmittals the words “Overnight Service” can be switched from white text to red text eliminating retyping the text, as white text doesn’t print. We’ve used this method for years at the office, even before switching to Word from WordPerfect.

    To change Window Color: Control Panel; Appearance and Personalization, Personalization, Click on Window Color – custom at bottom of popup, Advanced App. Settings, Select Window and Change Color 1.

  34. Michael

    April 25, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Thanks so much! My English teacher is a nut and required that we highlight in a very light pink! XD

  35. almare2

    June 29, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks for the great tip! Now I can highlight in a color that will not block out the words when the manuscript is printed! (By the way, I am using Word 2000.)

  36. maxis

    August 11, 2011 at 10:28 am


  37. maxis

    August 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

    (at least in Word 2010)

    In the same paragraph you can change the background color of each character if you want.

  38. puppy health

    August 24, 2011 at 8:30 am

    How to insert Dynamic Drive codes and scripts on my Joomla site?

  39. vbnbv

    September 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Not working for me…

  40. A. Hogberg

    March 5, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I am trying to use Find Replace to write a macro to automate highlighting all lines for one character is a script. Macro with Find and Replace works with highlight but on print is too dark to read. Cannot get lighter shading to work in Find Replace or in VBA code. Have any ideas?

  41. A. Hogberg

    March 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Son suggested that I use the yellow highlight but PRINT it in greyscale with black ink. It worked, got light grey highlighted script just like I need when printed. Much less trouble than using the shading bucket when you have a lot to highlight. The highlight function is more user friendly than shading except for the problem of the too dark on print color choices. I could not get the shading to work in macro for Find Replace, but the highlight was easy to record in macro. All your comments helped me look in the right direction, thanks.

  42. David.P

    May 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I’d so much like to change the original highlight colors to something brighter!

    This must be possible using a hex editor on Word! Any ideas how to find the color values in the Word program code?

  43. EMyrtle

    June 12, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Great ideas, all. Now if Arbit could just change to readable colors (gray on brown?), it would become a five-start blog.

  44. Bess

    December 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I
    stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit once again since I saved as a
    favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich
    and continue to guide others.


    February 8, 2013 at 6:31 am

    I speculate how come you named this article, “Custom Highlight Color in MS Word Arbit Web”.
    Either way I admired it!Thanks for your time-Jayme

  46. jim

    May 4, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Worked for me and a nice trick! Thanks!
    (wish I knew this yesterday . . . )

  47. rosacea

    July 5, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Hello There. I found your weblog the usage of msn. That is an
    extremely neatly written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  48. Ivey

    July 26, 2013 at 11:05 am

    It is not my first time to pay a visit this
    web page, i am visiting this site dailly and get pleasant data from here everyday.

  49. Eddy Fugate

    July 30, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Great goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re
    just extremely great. I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what
    you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of
    to keep it smart. I can’t wait to read far more from you. This is really a terrific website.


    September 24, 2014 at 5:54 am

    Landscaping includes not just the lawn, but the trees, shrubs, sprinklers, furniture and other features of your Omaha
    yard. Easements are created when another property owner (or interested party) requires access to property that may only be accessed from the primary owner’s property.
    A landscape designer knows where to place the flowers for greater effect and what
    plants to seed.

  51. Eulah

    September 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    The popularity of baseball pins is certainly understandable.
    It’s legal to gamble on equine racing and certain types of lottery in Thailand, although it is against the
    law for that Thai people to take part in casino betting and odds on the
    internet and sports betting. You do not have to be glued to a
    television screen to know how your favorite team is faring.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: