Great Color Combinations
To Excel, Word, PowerPoint
And Other Office Projects
by Charley Kyd
Microsoft Excel MVP
When you're trying to choose an Office color theme for a new
project, Excel and other Office products provide virtually no
information about how the colors might work together.
For example, suppose you're wondering whether Office's
Essential color theme might work for a new project. The following
image shows the only information that Excel and other Office
you're a graphic artist, you might be able to imagine how these
colors would fit together...along with their tints and shades. But
if you're like most Office users, you don't have a clue. We need
to **see** how the colors work together!
That's what one feature of Plaid Palette Plus is all
As you can see in the top-right corner of this page, one
worksheet in the Plaid
Palette Plus workbook shows 25 color combinations for any color
theme when you hover your mouse pointer over its name in a list of
color themes in Excel.
This view provides you 25 ideas about color combinations you might want to
try, and combinations you definitely want to avoid.
To give you even more information, Plaid Palette Plus
includes larger swatches with fills, text, and charts for each
This figure, for example, shows expanded color information
for column B of the plaid palette above. The workbook includes a
page like this for each column of colors in the plaid palette.
But that's not the only benefit that Plaid Palette Plus
Standardized Theme Luminosity
This color palette
is for the Office Angles color theme. Like any color theme,
you can choose a lighter or darker value for each color in the
However, take a look at the following table, which lists all the Office theme colors.
As the middle column shows,
the default luminosity (lightness or
darkness) for each of the six Accent colors in each theme varies significantly from theme to
theme, and from color to color within each theme. Only Adjacency and Apex
offer consistent luminosity by default.
Here's why that variation is a problem: It keeps most Office
color themes from being interchangeable.
For example, suppose you assign the Angles color theme,
using both the right-most color (Accent 6) and the color next to it
(Accent 5). As Default section of the table shows, Accent 6 for the Angles theme
is a much darker color (the right-most bar is much shorter) than
Now suppose you want to switch to the Essential color theme
again. With this choice, the luminosities are reversed. Here,
Accent 6 is much lighter (the bar is much taller) than the Accent 5
As you can see from this table, if you use any Office color palette
other than Adjacency or Apex, each color combination you use will be
uniquely light or dark. That's really bad, because once you use
a color theme you're pretty much stuck with it. This is because if you
switch color themes the colors in your workbook or other documents
can randomly turn much darker or lighter, depending on the theme you choose.
The way to avoid this problem—the way to make all your color
themes truly interchangeable—is to standardize your theme
colors. Once the colors are standardized, they all have a consistent
luminosity, as shown in the right-most column in the table.
You have two ways to standardize your color themes.
Plaid Palette Plus provides one way. It includes workbooks
with a standardized palette for each Office color theme. That
is, all colors in
these palettes have the same luminosity values. To create a
custom color theme from any of these workbooks, just activate it,
choose Page Layout, Themes, Colors, Create New Theme Colors, and
then enter the name for your custom theme in the dialog.
The Kyd Palette add-in provides the
other way to standardize your color themes. One of its tools will
standardize the colors of your current theme with the click of a
Another Kyd Palette tool offers 40,320 color combinations
for each color theme.
Get Plaid Palette Plus Free!
For a short time only, you can get Plaid Palette Plus free
when you order my new Excel add-in, Kyd Palette, for its
introductory price that's 30% less than the normal price.
Click this link to learn more about
Kyd Palette and get Plaid Palette
Plus for free.
Plaid Palette Plus now and Save 29%!!