Contextures News

Show Custom Messages in Excel

Oct 3, 2017

Save time with Excel themes, and more, in this week's Excel news. Visit my Excel website for many more tips, tutorials and videos.

Note: For some products mentioned below, I earn a commission on sales. That supports the free info on my site!

Custom Colours

Excel comes with a default theme --you can see the Theme fonts at the top of the font list, and the theme colours are in the Fill and Font drop downs.

If you need different colours --maybe to match your company logo -- Ann K. Emery shows how to find and apply those colours in a chart. That's a helpful tip, but you wouldn't want to do those steps every time you make a chart!

To save time, create a custom colour palette, and store your special colours there:

  • On the Page Layout tab, click Colors. The default palette (Office) is probably selected, but you can choose a different one, that's closer to what you need.
  • Then, click Customize Colors, and change one or more of the Accent colours -- they're used for the chart columns and lines.
  • When you're finished, type a name for your palette, and click Save.
  • Later, choose your custom colour palette whenever you need it.

To save even more time, create a Custom Theme, with your favourite colours, fonts, and effects. There are instructions on the Microsoft website, with screenshots that show the steps. It's worth the effort if you like to use special settings for your Excel workbooks.

create custom theme colours

Show Data Entry Messages

When you make an Excel file for other people to use, do you put comments on the sheets? Cells with comments get a little red triangle in the corner, but the comments only appear if you point to that cell. It's easy to ignore those comments, especially if you're using the keyboard, not the mouse.

Instead of the normal comments, use Data Validation (DV) messages -- even if you don't need data entry rules. The DV messages appear when you click on a cell, and it's a great way to add a short tip or warning.

To add a DV message:

  • Select the cell(s), and on the Ribbon's Data tab, click Data Validation
  • Click the Input Message tab, add a check mark
  • Type a short title and message, then click OK

show values as percentage

Dashboards Reminder

Mynda Treacy's free webinars are ending soon -- Learn how to build interactive dashboards with Power BI and Excel. In this free one-hour webinar, see how to go from raw data in Excel, to a sophisticated dashboard, using free tools. Click this link to register today.

Excel Articles

Here are a couple of recent Excel articles that you might find useful or interesting.

Power BI - Carlos Otero, who works on the Excel team at Microsoft, shows how he predicts soccer (football) results with the Get & Transform feature in Excel 2016, or Power Query in Excel 2010/2013. Even if you aren't interested in the sport, download his Excel file, to see how it works. (Level - Intermediate)

Excel Maps - If you've used Excel for a long time, you might remember the old Maps feature, which eventually disappeared. Now maps are back again, and Kevin Lehrbass shows how to make a quick 3D map in Excel 2016. (Level - Intermediate)

Also see: My Excel Products || Excel Events || Previous Issues || Excel Humour

Fairy Houses

Last week, we went to Rochester, NY, to do some shopping and sightseeing. It was really hot, so we did an early morning walk along the nature trails at Tinker Park, where there is a small collection of fairy houses. We saw some of them last year, but there were several new houses too, like this mushroom-shaped one. It was a nice break from shopping, where almost everything was pumpkin-spice scented or flavoured!

And if you're in Canada, like me, have a Happy Thanksgiving this weekend!

weekly photo

That's it for this week! If you have any comments or questions, send me an email.

NOTE: If you have trouble with the images or links in this email, paste this URL into your web browser, to see the online version:

Debra Dalgleish
ddalgleish @

Debra Dalgleish

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Last updated: October 1, 2017 1:14 PM