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Here's Why these 31 Office Color Themes Will Enhance
Your Excel Dashboard Reporting System...

by Charley Kyd, MBA
Microsoft Excel MVP, 2005-2014
The Father of Spreadsheet Dashboard Reports

When you first create an Excel dashboard report, you probably won't think much about a color strategy. You'll just choose a color theme you like, then charge ahead.

But if you’re really serious about creating world-class, career-enhancing dashboard reports for your managers, or your clients, or your other VIPs, then you should start to think about your color themes.  

To see why, suppose you use different color themes for different departments, regions, clients, and so on...

First, you and your readers would find it easier to keep the different topics straight. For example, one color theme might signal a Marketing report and another might signal a Finance report.

Second, if you prepare reports for clients, you could assign a different theme color to each. That would help to ensure that you don't accidentally send a Client A report to Client B...which could cost you both clients.

Third, your new reporting skills would make a much bigger impact on your company. This is because the many different color themes would make it obvious that you’re creating many different reports for many different audiences. And that could help your career.

Unfortunately, however, the Microsoft Office color themes aren't suited for Excel dashboards, as the following figure illustrates.

The Problems with the Microsoft Office Color Themes

This figure illustrates at least two problems with Microsoft Office color themes, which were introduced in Office 2007. To create the figure, I started with a Kyd War Room dashboard, then selected various Office color themes.

I did NOT do anything special to make these Office themes look so bad. Honest.

The most obvious problem with these colors is that they're too loud. These charts scream at you; imagine a whole page of them. These aren't colors that would impress your CEO, your clients, or your other VIPs.

Another problem is that when we change color themes, the light colors don't stay light and the dark colors don't stay dark. Therefore, we can't just change color themes when we use standard Office colors. Instead when we choose a new color theme from Microsoft, we usually must adjust the shade of each chart, border, cell, font, and so on.

Kyd Color Themes

This figure illustrates several of my 31 color themes that come with Kyd Colors. They're very different from the standard Office themes, in three ways.

First, of course, the colors don't scream at you. And they won't scream at your CEO.

Second, each color theme has the same level of dark and light colors. So as you choose another color theme, the dark colors DO stay dark and the light colors DO stay light.

That consistency will allow you to change color themes with one quick step, rather than with many steps that could take many minutes.

Third, when you print dashboard reports that use these color themes, your printer will use much less ink or toner than standard Office color themes do. In fact, if you print many dashboard reports, you probably could save the cost of Kyd Colors in a few months.

You can use these color themes with any Office product that supports color themes, including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Access. Therefore, you can apply a color theme from Kyd Colors to an Excel dashboard, use the same color theme in a Word report that discusses your dashboard, and then use the same color theme in your PowerPoint slides when you discuss the results in a meeting.

Get Kyd Colors now, while you're thinking about it. You'll significantly improve your Excel dashboard reporting system.


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