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How to Apply and Change Themes in Excel & Google Sheets

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use themes to apply and change formatting in Excel and Google Sheets.


excel apply theme initial layout 2a


Apply a Theme

Excel enables us to change the theme of a workbook. Applying a theme can change formatting such as font family, size, and color; cell background color; and emphasis (bold or italic). By default, the theme in Excel is “Office.” Let’s say that we have the data below – with the Office theme automatically applied – in a worksheet, and we want to apply a different theme.


excel apply theme initial layout 2


As you can see, the data is formatted as a blue styled table, and the title is Word Art in blue font. All fonts are Calibri by default. Let’s say that we want to change this theme to some other theme offered in Excel.

In the Ribbon, (1) go to the Page Layout tab, then (2) click on Themes and (3) choose an offered theme (for example, Slice).


apply theme slice 2


Applying the Slice theme changes the cell, object, and table formatting. The font is now Century Gothic, the Word Art font color is orange, and the table background colors are different shades of blue than they were using the Office theme.


excel apply theme final layout 2


Change a Theme

Of course, you’ll almost always need to change at least one setting to get the desired layout. Therefore, Excel allows you to change a predefined theme. You can change elements like the color scheme and font family.

Change the Color Scheme

To change colors in the current theme, follow these steps:

1. In the Ribbon, (1) go to the Page Layout tab and, in the Themes group, (2) click on Colors > (3) Customize Colors.


customize theme colors 1


2. In the pop-up window for theme colors change, you can change the color of different categories. We’ll change Accent 1, which will affect the table.
First (1) click on the drop-down for Accent 1 and choose the color (for example, orange). Then (2) give a Name to the adjusted color scheme (e.g., “Change Color”) and (3) press Save.


customize theme colors 2a


After this, colors in the whole workbook are adjusted according to these changes. As you can see in the picture below, the table colors are changed from blue to orange.


customize theme colors 3a


Change Font

In a similar way, you can also change the fonts of a theme. To do this, follow these steps:

1. In the Ribbon, (1) go to the Page Layout tab, then (2) click on Fonts in the Themes group and (3) choose Customize Fonts.


customize theme fonts 1


2. In the pop-up window, set up a font for heading or body text. For this example, (1) set the Body font to “Caveat.” Now (2) give a Name to the modified font settings (e.g., “Custom Font”) and (3) Save it.


customize theme fonts 2a


You can see in the picture below how the color and font changed according to the theme customization.


excel apply theme final layout 2a


Save the Custom Theme

If you want to use the adjusted theme later and/or in other Excel workbooks, save it as a custom theme.

1. In the Ribbon, go to the Page Layout tab, then choose Themes and click on Save Current Theme.


save current theme 1


2. In the pop-up save window, choose a name for the custom theme (e.g., “Custom Theme”). The theme will be saved as a file in .thmx format.


save current theme 2a


By default, it will be saved in the folder with Microsoft Document Themes and can be used in all Excel workbooks in the future. If you later go to apply a theme (Page Layout > Themes), you’ll see that now there is a Custom section with the new Custom Theme offered.


custom theme display 1


Change and Customize the Theme in Google Sheets

You can also change and adjust the theme in Google Sheets. To do this, follow the next steps.

1. In the Menu, go to Format > Theme.


google sheets change theme 1


2. On the right side of the screen, choose a theme.


google sheets change theme 2a


As a result, the chart theme is changed.


google sheets change theme 3


You can also customize the selected theme.

1. Click on Customize in the Themes window to change the default theme.


google sheets customize theme 1


2. Now you can change font style, chart backgrounds, and texts. (1) Change Chart Background color to light blue, (2) then change Accent 1 to red, and (3) click Done.


google sheets customize theme 2


As a result, the customized theme is applied to the Google Sheets chart.


google sheets customize theme 3

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