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Changing Color for Negative Data Series of Charts in PowerPoint 2010 and 2007 for Windows

Change the white color used for negative values in chart series in PowerPoint 2010 and 2007 for Windows. You can choose to use another color such as red or something else that's better suited for your chart.

Although we mention that this tutorial works for both PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, the actual techniques work only within PowerPoint 2010 for Windows. The reason why this does not work well within PowerPoint 2007 is because that version had no option for pattern fills. However, if you work within PowerPoint 2010 using the procedure outlined on this page, you'll find that any changes you make show up in PowerPoint 2007 as well.

When you choose to invert the fill for any negative option in a chart series, you end up seeing those negative series in white. This is not a great default if your slide background is white or if you want the negative series to show in another color such as red. In this tutorial, we show you how you can use a workaround to get over this limitation.

Follow these steps to change the of negative value representations in your charts in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows:

  1. You must have a chart that has negative values, as shown in Figure 1, below. Select the data series by clicking on it. Alternatively, you can select the data series from the chart elements drop-down list.

  2. Figure 1: Selected chart element (data series)
  3. Activate the Chart Tools Layout tab of the Ribbon towards the extreme left of the Ribbon. Make sure that you have the correct data series selected, and then click the Format Selection button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 2, below.

  4. Figure 2: Format Selection button
  5. This action summons the Format Data Series dialog box, as shown in Figure 3, below.

  6. Figure 3: Format Data Series
  7. At this point, we are assuming that you have selected the Fill tab in the sidebar. Next, click the Invert if Negative option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3, above. Next, select the Pattern fill option, as shown in Figure 4, below.

  8. Figure 4: Pattern fill


  9. As soon as you select the Pattern fill option, several patterns show up within this dialog box, as shown to Figure 4, above. You'll also find two color drop-down boxes under the pattern swatches. As you can see, the foreground color matches the fill color for positive columns, and the background color matches with the fill for negative columns.
  10. We will now make some changes. From the patterns, we chose the 5% pattern, which is located on the top-left. This is the most inconspicious pattern. We then chose a solid color from the background color drop-down, as you can see in Figure 5, below. Red was chosen since that color seems to go well with the negative concept.

  11. Figure 5: Background color
  12. Click the Close button to go back to your chart with the new fills.
  13. Figure 6, below shows how the chart looks now. As you can see, the fill colors of the columns are actually reversed from what we wanted! So we need to remedy that next.

  14. Figure 6: Different column colors
  15. Summon the Format Data Series dialog box again. Within the Fill tab, choose the Solid fill option, as shown in Figure 7, below.

  16. Figure 7: Solid fill
  17. Changing the fill type from Pattern to Solid fill sets colors in the chart series to the right values. Click the Close button to get back to the chart.
  18. Figure 8, below shows the correct chart with no patterns, and distinctly different colors for positive and negative columns. As you can see in Figure 8, our sample chart has only one data series. However, there's no reason why you cannot use the same steps for any other series if your chart has multiple series.

  19. Figure 8: Chart with changed colors
  20. Save your presentation.

See Also:

Advanced Chart Techniques: Changing Color for Negative Data Series of Charts (Glossary Page)

Changing Color for Negative Data Series of Charts in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Changing Color for Negative Data Series of Charts in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Changing Color for Negative Data Series of Charts in PowerPoint 2003 and 2002 for Windows