In the following video I explain the difference between the color palettes and a solution for making your new workbooks look the same when opened in Excel 2003 or earlier.
Excel 2007 workbooks are Ugly in previous versions
The new theme based color palettes in Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013 are great for designing spreadsheets and charts that are visually appealing. But did you know that those colors are being converted to the old 56 color palette when opened in a previous version of Excel? This means your new spreadsheets could look like the following when opened by clients or colleagues using Excel 2003 or earlier versions.
The Previous Version Palette
Excel 2007 workbooks contain a 56 color palette that will be used when the file is opened by previous versions of Excel. You can see this palette by opening an Excel workbook and going to: Office Button > Excel Options > Save (option in left sidebar) > Colors… button (after: Choose what colors will be seen in previous versions).
This is the default color palette in older versions of Excel, and Excel automatically converts your new theme colors to these colors.
Does this sound confusing, time consuming, and frustrating? Well don't worry…
Here is your simple and free solution!
The Color Palette Conversion Tool is a simple utility that retrieves the colors you've used in your workbook and updates the previous version palette automatically. With the click of a few buttons you will ensure that all Excel users see the same colors you do in your fonts, borders, and background fills. This is critical for presentation purposes, and general sanity if you have Excel 2007 at work and a previous version at home.
The tool has a few advanced features that allow you to control your previous version palette colors, plan for future designs, make updates in multiple workbooks, and easily view or restore default palette colors. The tool is just a single worksheet in a workbook that contains macros to run this process. You can use it as a stand alone, or add in to your workbooks if you want to make frequent updates.
Here is what your spreadsheets will look like in previous versions after using the Color Palette Conversion tool.
Save time and eliminate color confusion
If you're currently going into your previous version palette and modifying colors, you know how time consuming it can be to change the colors. You have to manually type in the RGB codes for each color you use from the new theme palette. It's a painful process, but must be done if you want your spreadsheet colors to be universal with all Excel versions. This tool eliminates all that work. I explain the color palettes in more detail on the download page. I hope you find this tool useful and please post questions or suggestions below.
Color Palette Conversion Tool Screenshot
Download Page & Instructions