How to Grey Out Cells in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Graying out cells in Excel is a handy trick that can help you visually distinguish between different types of data, make your spreadsheets look more professional, or simply highlight certain cells. If you’ve ever wondered how to do this, you’re in luck because it’s actually pretty simple. All you need to do is follow a few steps, and you’ll have those cells looking exactly how you want them in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Grey Out Cells in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s talk about what we’re trying to achieve. Graying out cells in Excel is all about changing the cell’s background color to a shade of gray, making it stand out from the rest of the data. This doesn’t affect the cell’s content; it’s purely a visual change.

Step 1: Select the Cells You Want to Grey Out

Click and drag your mouse over the cells you want to change.

When you select cells in Excel, they’re highlighted with a border, indicating that any changes you make will only affect those cells. Make sure you’ve got the right ones selected before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Open the Format Cells Menu

Right-click on the selected cells and choose ‘Format Cells’ from the context menu.

The Format Cells menu is where all the magic happens. It’s a toolbox that allows you to change the font, alignment, number format, and, most importantly for us, the cell shading.

Step 3: Navigate to the Fill Tab

In the Format Cells menu, click on the ‘Fill’ tab to access the background color options.

The Fill tab is specifically designed to change the background color of the cells. It offers a palette of colors to choose from, including various shades of gray.

Step 4: Choose Your Shade of Grey

Select the shade of gray you want to use and click ‘OK’.

There’s no right or wrong shade of gray to use—it’s all about what works for you and your spreadsheet. Light gray is subtle and professional, while a darker gray can really make those cells pop.

After you complete these steps, the selected cells will be grayed out. The content of the cells will remain unchanged, but the background color will be different. This can help with organization, data entry accuracy, or just make your spreadsheet a bit more visually appealing.

Tips for Graying Out Cells in Excel

  • Experiment with different shades of gray to see what looks best with your data.
  • Use a light gray to keep the text easily readable.
  • If you want to revert the changes, simply select the cells and set the fill color to ‘No Fill’.
  • Combine graying out cells with other formatting options, like bold or italic text, for even more emphasis.
  • Remember that conditional formatting can also be used to automatically gray out cells based on certain criteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I gray out cells based on certain conditions?

You can use conditional formatting to gray out cells that meet specific criteria, like values below a certain number.

Conditional formatting is a powerful tool that allows you to set rules for how cells are formatted. For example, you could set a rule that says “if the value in this cell is less than 100, make the background color gray.”

Can I gray out an entire row or column?

Yes, you can select an entire row or column and follow the same steps to gray it out.

To select an entire row, click on the row number on the left-hand side of the spreadsheet. To select a column, click on the column letter at the top.

How do I remove the gray background from a cell?

To remove the gray background, follow the same steps to open the Format Cells menu, go to the Fill tab, and choose ‘No Fill’.

Removing the gray background will restore the cell to its default state, which is usually a white or transparent background.

Can I gray out cells without affecting the text color?

Yes, graying out cells only changes the background color and has no effect on the text color.

If you want to change the text color as well, you can do that from the Font tab in the Format Cells menu.

Will graying out cells affect my data?

No, graying out cells is purely a cosmetic change and won’t affect the data in your cells.

You can still perform all the usual functions, like calculations and data analysis, on cells that have been grayed out.


  1. Select the cells.
  2. Open the Format Cells menu.
  3. Go to the Fill tab.
  4. Choose a shade of gray.


Graying out cells in Excel is a simple yet effective way to organize your data, draw attention to certain areas, or just make your spreadsheet look more polished. With the easy-to-follow steps outlined above, you can transform your Excel workbook in just a few clicks. Plus, with the additional tips and answers to common questions, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any graying out cells in excel challenges that come your way. Whether you’re a beginner or an Excel veteran, mastering the art of cell formatting can take your spreadsheet game to the next level. So why not give it a try and see the difference it can make?

Join Our Free Newsletter

Featured guides and deals

You may opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Policy