Keyboard Shortcuts to Change Font & Fill Color or Cell Style

June 9, 2013 | by Jon Acampora | CLICK HERE TO LEARN EXCEL FROM YOUR INBOX

Excel Font Fill Color Keyboard Shortcut KeysHave you been searching Google to find keyboard shortcuts to apply a font or fill color to a cell?

Well, you can stop your search… :-)

I have spent a lot of time researching this topic as well.  This page will hopefully help you with some answers and solutions to this question.

No “Good” Built-in Shortcuts

Unfortunately, there are no built-in keyboard shortcuts in Excel for font or fill colors.  There are a few “workaround” methods that I explain in another blog post, 5 Excel Keyboard Shortcuts for Font & Fill Colors.  But these built-in methods are either slow, or do not provide a direct solution.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Font & Fill Colors

So I developed an add-in that allows you to create keyboard shortcuts to change the font & fill colors.  This add-in also lets you create keyboard shortcuts to apply other cell formatting properties like number formatting, borders, font size, protection alignment, etc.

Formatting Shortcuts Lite Excel Userform

The add-in is named “Formatting Shortcuts” and there is a free version available for download.

Click Here to Jump to Download Section

Time Saving Shortcuts

The Formatting Shortcuts add-in will save you a lot of time if you are currently using the mouse to format cells.  Again, this includes any type of formatting and is not just limited to font and fill colors.

The image below shows some common tasks that we all do in Excel to format cells.  It includes the buttons on the ribbon that we press over and over again to apply formatting._

Common Formatting Mouse Actions - Excel

The Formatting Shortcuts add-in will allow you to create keyboard shortcuts for any of these actions.

The keyboard shortcuts are quick and easy to press in one step.  This will save you a ton of time over having to navigate to the ribbon (toolbar) with the mouse.

Video Demo

Here is a video that explains how the add-in works.  You will see that it is fast to setup and easy to press the shortcut keys.

Click Here to Jump to Download Section

In the video above I demonstrate a few different ways to apply different formatting types with the custom keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard Shortcuts Are EASY to Press

The keyboard shortcuts you create all start with Ctrl+Shift.  Then you get to choose the letter at the end of the key combination.

For example, in the screenshot below I have setup the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+S to apply the yellow fill color to a cell or range.

Formatting Shortcuts Lite Excel Userform

The shortcut Ctrl+Shift+S is very easy to press because the keys are close together and can all be pressed at one time with your left hand.

Keyboard Shortcut Diagram Ctrl+Shift+S Yellow Fill

This beats alternative methods of having to press Alt+H+H, then pressing the arrow keys to find the color on the palette.  That method is slow and difficult to perform.

But the Ctrl+Shift+{letter} shortcuts you use with the Formatting Shortcuts add-in are easy and efficient.  They will save you a lot of time.

Click Here to Jump to Download Section

Undo Your Mistakes

The Formatting Shortcuts add-in also allows you to undo your mistakes.  If you have ever recorded your own macro and assigned a shortcut key to it, you know that you lose the undo history when you press the shortcut key to run the macro.

This is not the case with the add-in.  The full version of the Formatting Shortcuts add-in allows you to retain the full Undo History in Excel.  So you can use Ctrl+Z or the Undo button if you accidentally press one of the shortcut keys.

The screencast below shows an example of this.  In this video I setup a shortcut key for a cell style that contains number formatting, borders, font, and fill colors.  I then use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+A to apply the formatting to a few cells. Finally, I undo my actions using the Undo button.


Formatting Shortcuts Add-in Setup Demo

Click Here to Jump to Download Section


Here are a few additional features of the add-in:

  1. Easy to Use – The shortcut keys and cell formatting can be changed with the click of a few buttons.
  2. Unlimited Options – Any combination of formatting properties can be applied with a keyboard shortcut.  This includes custom styles and all formatting options.
  3. Full Undo History – The undo history is retained so you can undo any changes made by the keyboard shortcuts.  If you have recorded or written your own formatting macros, you know that undo history is typically lost when you run a macro.  This add-in works around that to retain the undo history.  More details about undo on the help page.
  4. Save Time – Improve your efficiency and style worksheets in a fraction of the time it would take with mouse actions.
  5. Consistency – The add-in saves your styles so you can start using the keyboard shortcuts when you open a new workbook.  No setup needed (even for custom styles).  Using the same styles throughout your models will make it easier for users to read and understand.  Read more about styles on the help page._

Click Here to Jump to Download Section

Formatting Types

  1. Font Color – Applies the font color to the selected cell(s).
  2. Fill Color – Applies the fill color (cell shading or background) to the selected cell(s).
  3. Font+Fill Color – Applies both the font and fill color to the selected cell(s).
  4. Cell Styles (full version only) – Applies the cell style to the selected cell(s).  Formatting for cell styles include:
    – font color
    – fill color
    – text formatting (bold, italics, underline, etc.)
    – border properties (color, weight, line style, etc.)
    – alignment (left, right, centered, etc.)
    – cell protection
    – The image below shows the Cell Styles menu.  Cell styles can be added and modified (customized) in Excel.

    Excel Cells Styles Menu

    Click to Enlarge

    Click Here to Jump to Download Section


The add-in is available in two versions.  Both versions are compatible with Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013.

Lite Version

The lite version is free to download below and allows you to create up to three keyboard shortcuts for font color, fill color (cell background), or both font & fill color.  It has a single undo feature, which allows you to undo your keyboard shortcut action one time.

Formatting Shortcuts Lite Ribbon Button Userform


Click Here to Jump to Download Section

Full Version

The full version is $14.99 US and allows you to create  12 keyboard shortcuts.  

It includes the addition of the cell styles format type to create shortcuts for all cell properties (number formatting, borders, font, alignment, etc.)

It also includes the ability to preserve the full undo history.  This means you can undo any of the formatting you applied with the keyboard shortcuts using the Undo button or Ctrl+Z.  The Cell Styles and Undo History are two great features that I think you will find really useful.

Formatting Shortcuts Excel Userform 2.4


The full version also includes a Key List feature.  Clicking the Key List button will create a new workbook with a list of all your shortcut keys.  You can print this list and use it as a reference to learn and memorize your shortcuts.

Formatting Shortcuts Key List

The full version includes a full money-back guarantee.  If you are not satisfied, you may get a full refund within 90 days of purchase.

Both versions include free upgrades and support.

Product Comparison

Formatting Shortcuts Product Comparisons 2.4


Lite Version – FREE
Full Version – $14.99 US

Add to Cart

After purchase you will be redirected to a secure download page.  You will also receive an email with a link to download the zip file.

Compatible with: Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 for Windows Only

All purchases are backed by our 100% Money-back Guarantee.

What’s in the Zip?

The zip file contains: the add-in file, installation guide, and user guide.

Formatting Shortcuts Zip File Contents

Online Help Pages

How to Install an Excel Add-in Guide

Formatting Shortcuts Add-in Help Page

What do you think?

I want you to love this add-in, so please leave a comment on how it works for you or how it can be improved.

Please share this post:
  • You just made my work life so much easier! I have to color-code an Excel worksheet all day long, and this is going to be so much faster. Amazing!

  • Hello, I had installed this add-in on my previous computer. I just got a new computer and had downloaded the add-in again, but this time I am getting an error message (on Save&Close) that is not allowing me to use it. It is a Microsoft Visual Basic error: “Run-time error ‘1004’: Method ‘OnKey’ of object ‘_Application’ failed.

    I also noticed that the 1st macro Key (Ctrl+Shift+A) does not have anything selected in the Key field. I tried putting in “a”, “A”, and some other letter, but still was unable to Save&Close.

    Have you seen this before, and do you have any recommendations on how to resolve this problem? I like this macro and would like to use it again!

    Thank you.

    • Hi Gabrielle,
      My apologies for not responding sooner. I missed your comment. What version of Excel is on your new computer. You might want to try disabling the add-in from the Add-ins menu. Completely close and re-open Excel, then enable it again. Thanks!

  • Will this add-in work for Macs running Office 2011 for Mac?

  • If i purchase the add on, and then after using it, i changed my laptop, can the add on be transferred to my new laptop? Just wanna be sure that I dont have to purchase duplicates again.

    • Hi JEH,
      Yes, you can use the add-in on up to 3 computers that you own at any one time. So if you get 3 new computers, you can use it on all of them without having to make an additional purchase. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks and have a great day!

  • Yes – excellent tool. The “fill shortcut” feature is saving me a TON of time on a gigantic spreadsheet. This contribution earns you an email “list” at the very least.

    Maybe I’ll upgrade.

  • GREAT add-in Jon! I really like how you wrote an accompanying article to go with your excellent add-in.

  • Hi,
    the undo function is not working.
    Arrow to undo is appear, but when i click on, arrow disappear but filled colour not disapear.
    Lite Version. Excel 2010.

  • Hello Jon,

    I purchased the add-in some time ago and overall I’m very satisfied with my purchase, however I am experiencing an issue with the add-in. Sometimes when I save a file in a directory in windows explorer, it saves a copy of the add-in. In other word it creates a file with the name “EC_Formatting_Shortcuts_Full.xlam” in the same directory as I saved a file in.

    How can I fix this?

    Best regards,

    • Hi Frederik,

      Thank you for letting me know. That happens when multiple instances of Excel are open at the same time. This is something I need to fix with the add-in. You can delete those copies of the add-in file, but I realize this is probably annoying. I will let you know when an updated version is available with the fix.

      Thanks again for your purchase Frederik! I really appreciate it.

      • That was a quick reply!

        Yes that would be great.

        I don’t personally mind it too much, but it confuses my boss and other people working in the same directories, who might tell me to stop using it.

        Thank you Jon.

      • Hello, did this multiple excel instances fix ever get created? Please let me know so i can dl the latest version when avbl.

  • I already subscribed but i cant download the zip file can you explain exactly how can i download it ?.

  • hi – When I apply the shortcuts for color fill, save my Excel doc and then send to my client to review and edit, will he be able to use the same shortcuts without having to download the add-in on his end?

    • Hi Laura,
      Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Add-ins are local to your computer, so your client would have to have the add-in installed as well.

      One solution would be to add the macros to a macro enabled workbook. Then the shortcuts would travel with the file. Let me know if this would work for you and I can provide the code. The only real requirement is that your client can use workbooks that contain macros (.xlsm files). Some companies restrict their use.


  • Awesome shortcut. Searched for a Facebook link to LIKE you – don’t see one. Sharing this link on my page. Many friends will appreciate this.

    • Thanks Heather! And thank you so much for letting me know about the Facebook button. I just added some social buttons to the sidebar on the right.

      Is that what you were looking for? Should I add a “like” button instead?

      Here is the link to my facebook page. I’m just getting it started and could use some “likes”. :-)

      Thanks again!

  • Hello,

    I am trying to install this on my office 365 excel x64 and it is not allowing me to even pick out the lite version from the file. Do I need special installation instructions???

    • Hi Anthony,

      My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I just saw your comment. Were you able to get this to work? Can you send me a screenshot with the error message, or the menu where it is not allowing you pick out the add-in file?


  • This Add-In fixes just the issue I wanted solved! Works perfectly.

    Thank you very much and I hope you make some nice pocket money from your good work!

  • I installed on excel 2010 and upon opening the add in I get the following error message: “Run-time error ’91’: Object variable or With block variable not set”

    I can see the add-in interface behind this dialogue box, but obviously can’t do anything with it because the dialog box only allows me to close the add-in program.

    Any thoughts?

    • Hi Dan,

      Typically that will happen if you do not have a workbook open. Open any workbook or create a new blank workbook before pressing the add-in button on the ribbon. Let me know if that helps resolve the issue.


  • Thank you for awesome Add in

  • Hello! I’m getting the following error after formatting my windows 7.

    Microsoft excel cannot access the file ‘c:\users…..’. There are several possible reasons.
    . the file name or path does not exist.
    . the file is being used by another program.
    . the workbook u r trying to save has the same name as a currently open workbook.

  • Hello, I have a problem with Formatting Shortcuts Lite Version: 2.3. Every time i open an excel spreadsheet, it turns my Num Lock key off. This is very frustrating. Can you please assist?

  • I just tried the lite version and wanted to tell you that it’s awesome. When my needs pile up, I will buy the full version. Thank you very much.

  • Is there a version that works with excel for mac 11?

    • I do not have a Mac version yet, but have received quite a few requests. I will look into it and let you know.


      • Would be awesome. Thanks.

        • Wanted to bump this, to let you know there is another mac use that would love this! I found this page searching for ‘excel shortcuts change fill color’.

          • Thanks Brendan! I definitely think this is possible on the Mac and I will try to get a Mac version out soon. I recently developed another add-in for the Mac named Tab Hound. I enjoyed developing for the Mac and it’s something I will do more of in the future. Thanks for letting me know how you found me as well. Have a good one!

          • Thanks Brendan! I definitely think this is possible on the Mac and I will try to get a Mac version out soon. I recently developed another add-in for the Mac named Tab Hound. I enjoyed developing for the Mac and it’s something I will do more of in the future. Thanks for letting me know how you found me as well. Have a good one!

  • The Key List is great. I’m sure once I’ve used them enough I’ll have them memorized but I already have 8 formats that I regularly use. The Undo feature is amazing. I have macros and icons on ribbon to do the same, but I’ve always had the issue of not being able to use the undo feature. This is a great product.

  • the update with 12 shortcuts is awesome!! One thing i would ask is maybe allow the user to assign the letter. I was using “D” for one format but it was a predefined format. I suppose I could have gone down to “B” and assigned it my own formatting? Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks Don! You can assign the letter of each shortcut in the Key field text boxes. These keys are not locked, and you can change it to any letter character. Number characters already have built-in keyboard shortcuts for Ctrl+Shift, so the numbers can not be used.

      You can also delete the letter in the Key field text box if you want to temporarily disable the shortcut key.

      I am not sure I fully understand your question, so please let me know if this answers it. Also let me know if you think of a way that any of the processes can be easier or more intuitive.

      Thanks again!

      • Got it. I didn’t realize that the shortcut letters could simply be changed and saved. Answers my question, deleting the shortcut key letter will temporarily disable the shortcuty key. Again, this is a very handy tool where I don’t have to memorize the shortcut keystrokes or move the mouse to get to and change ribbons.

        • I am glad you asked, as others will probably have the same question and hopefully this will help. The new Key List button will also help you memorize your shortcut keys. Thanks again, I am happy that you find it useful.

  • Please add the option to save more than 3 formats. For heavy excel users, 10+ format options seems about right. If you’re able to make the change, we have a large office that would probably be interested in the add-in.

    • Thanks for the suggestion Jake. The next version will have an option to save more formats. I don’t have a release date for this yet, but I will let you know when it is available.


    • Hi Jake,

      The add-in has been updated to include 12 shortcut keys. It also contains a Key List button to create a printable guide of your shortcuts to help you memorize them.

      I will be sending out an email next week with the details, but the add-in is available for download now.

      Please let me know if you have any questions.

  • Nice! Its helping me a lot. Thanks :)

  • On the full version it seems I cannot change the type of font/style I want to save in the shortcut??

    Can you please assist me here?


    • Hi Carlo,

      I would be happy to help. To change the font or style for the shortcut, you will first need to format a cell with the font type or style you want to use, then set that by clicking the Cell/Format box in the Formatting Shortcuts menu. You will also need to change the Format Type to Cell Style. Here are some step-by-step instructions.

      1. Format a cell in your worksheet with the formatting you want to use with a keyboard shortcut.
      2. Click the Formatting Shortcuts button in the Add-Ins tab of the ribbon.
      3. In this example we will setup shortcut key #1. The shortcut key should be already setup as Ctrl+Shift+A.
      4. Select “Cell Style” from the Format Type drop-down box.
      5. Click the box to the right of the Format Type drop-down. You will be prompted to select the formatted cell. This is the cell you formatted in step 1.
      6. Selected the formatted cell and click OK. Then click Save & Close in the Formatting Shortcuts window.
      7. Your keyboard shortcut should now be ready to use. Select an un-formatted cell in your workbook and press Ctrl+Shift+A to format it.

      Please let me know if this helps answer your question.


  • Good product, couple of questions:

    1. Is there option to add in more than 3 format styles? I’m liking it because I can quickly format without having to use the mouse to hit my macro buttons on the ribbon and it retains the undo.

    2. One format I use is fill cells with blue, make text white and then center across columns. I’m guessing that I can’t use the add in if I have variable range of columns that I’m going to center across?

    • Hi Don,

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the add-in. Currently you can only save 3 keyboard shortcuts at one time. This could be expanded to 5.

      Yes, you can create a shortcut for the center across alignment by creating a cell style with the formatting properties. To apply it to a range, simply select the range and then press the keyboard shortcut. Your selected cells will be formatted with the center across alignment.

      By the way, center across is a much better alternative to the more popular merge and center alignment. Merging cells can cause issues when inserting columns or copying cells. It typically requires a lot of extra work to constantly merge and unmerge the cells. It can also cause issues when working with VBA. I much prefer the center across alignment over merge and center.

      Thanks again,

  • Mohamma Enamu Huq June 10, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Just Awesome!

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