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Changing Fill and Border of Charts in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

Learn to change chart fills and borders of data series in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

OS: Windows XP and higher






Although the default fill and border (outline) that PowerPoint 2010 applies to charts may be perfectly adequate, you might want to play with Chart Styles found in the Chart Tools Design tab of the Ribbon, all these Styles are based on the Office Theme you apply to your active presentation. While this works great most of the time, there will be occasions when you may want to use a color for any of your data series that's not part of the Theme palette in your presentation. In times like these, you can control the fill and border of chart elements using the techniques explained on this page.

Before you get started with this tutorial, we suggest you have a chart inserted on your PowerPoint slide, we have used a column chart for this tutorial, but you can also use any other chart type. You can learn how to insert a chart in PowerPoint 2010, and how to change the chart type from one to another. Now let's go ahead and customize the look of the chart by changing the fill and the border attributes.

Note: PowerPoint 2010 uses the terms border and outline interchangeably to mean the same thing!

Follow these steps to learn more:

  1. Select the chart on your slide as shown in Figure 1. This makes the three Chart Tools tabs visible on the Ribbon (highlighted in red).

    Selecting the chart displays the Chart Tools tabs of the Ribbon
    Figure 1: Selecting the chart displays the Chart Tools tabs of the Ribbon

    Note: The Chart Tools tabs are Contextual tabs. These tabs are special tabs in the Ribbon that are not visible all the time, they only make an appearance when you are working with a particular slide object which can be edited using special options.
  2. Now, click on the chart element for which you want to change the fill and border. Alternatively, you can select the chart elements using the Chart Elements drop-down list within the Chart Tools Layout tab. To learn how to do that, read our tutorial Chart Elements in PowerPoint 2010. For this tutorial, we have choosen the first set of columns from the left that represents the first data series in this chart as you can see in Figure 2.

    First data series selected within the chart
    Figure 2: First data series selected within the chart
  3. Select the the Chart Tools Layout tab of the Ribbon. Within the Current Selection group, locate the Chart Elements drop-down list (highlighted in red in Figure 3) and make sure that the name of the selected data series is being displayed. Then, click the Format Selection button (see Figure 3 again).

    Format Selection button to be clicked with the correct data series selected
    Figure 3: Format Selection button to be clicked with the correct data series selected
  4. This summons the Format Data Series dialog box, as shown in Figure 4.

    Fill options within Format Data Series dialog box
    Figure 4: Fill options within Format Data Series dialog box

    Within the Format Data Series dialog box, select the Fill tab on the left pane to get all the fill options on the right pane of the dialog (refer to Figure 4 above). All the fill options are explained below:

    No fill: Removes any fill from the selected chart element(s). There is a detailed tutorial available on No Fill for Shapes in PowerPoint 2010.

    Solid fill: Provides a solid fill color for the selected chart element. Selecting this radio button provides more solid fill options from Theme colors, Standard colors, etc. For more explanation on how to choose solid fill colors, refer to the Add Solid Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2010 tutorial.

    Gradient fill: Allows you to add graduated fills comprising two or more colors. If you want to know more about how to use this option, Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2010 tutorial will be of more help.

    Picture or Texture fill: Adds a texture or picture as a fill for the selected chart element(s). Want to know how? Read our tutorial Add Picture Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2010.

    Pattern fill: You can select from 48 patterns preset as a fill for the selected chart element(s). To learn more, go to our tutorial Add Pattern Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2010.

    Automatic: Takes the default solid fill color, based on the current Theme.

    Invert if Negative: This works if you have any negative figures in your chart, any such figures show as data series below the horizontal axis in another color (see Figure 5). To explore this option you can read the tutorial Charts in PowerPoint, Using the Invert if Negative Option in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010.

    Chart with Invert if negative check box selected
    Figure 5: Chart with Invert if negative check box selected

  5. Now, in Format Data Series dialog box, select the Border Color tab in the left pane (see Figure 6). This brings up the Border Color formatting options in the right pane.

    Border Color options within Format Data Series dialog box
    Figure 6: Border Color options within Format Data Series dialog box

    Options in the Border Color tab are explained below:

    No line: Removes borders from any selected chart element(s). You can also refer to No Shape Outline in PowerPoint 2010.

    Solid line: Provides a solid color border to the selected chart element(s), these colors can be Theme colors, Standard colors, etc. To learn more you can go to Formatting Outlines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2010.

    Gradient line: Applies graduated lines that are composed of two or more colors. The tutorial Gradient Outlines in PowerPoint 2010 provides you with more information on this option.

    Automatic: Takes the default line color, based on the current Theme.
  6. Select any of the available fill and border colors (or types) and make changes as required. Once all changes have been done, click the Close button to get back to the chart. In Figure 7 you can see that the previously selected data series (column) fill type and border color have been altered (compare it with Figure 2 above).

    Chart with altered fill and border
    Figure 7: Chart with altered fill and border
  7. Save your presentation.

See Also:

Changing Fill and Border for Chart Elements in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Changing Fill and Border for Charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Changing Fill and Border of Charts in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Changing Fills and Outlines of Charts in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 for Windows

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