Image: iStock/Laures

Adding a bit of color is an easy way to liven up or otherwise add a professional touch to a Microsoft Word document. You might decide to add a sedate color to a promotional letter or resume. Or you might want to add a meaningful color, such as a team color to a booster letter. Whatever your reasons, it’s easy to add color to all of the pages in your document. It takes a bit more work to colorize individual pages. In this article, I’ll show you how to do both, and a bit more.

SEE: 60 Excel tips every user should master

I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use earlier versions. There’s no downloadable demonstration file; you won’t need one. The browser edition is unreliable displaying colors.

How to add one color to all pages in Word

If you run out of color print paper, you can quickly add color to every page in your Word document and then print the document. For most if it, the ink will cost more than colored paper, so I don’t recommend doing this all the time. If the document’s going to the web or via email, there’s no cost to you at all!

SEE: How to manipulate multiple graphic files at the same time in a Word document (TechRepublic)

To color the pages of a document, click the Design tab and then click Page Color in the Page Background group. Choose a color from the dropdown palette or choose More Colors or even Fill Effects. Later, you can explore both of the latter options, but for now, let’s stick with colors in the existing palette. If you want a border, click the Page Borders option. We won’t discuss every option, but Figure A shows a two-page document with a light blue background and a dark green border.

Figure A

Using the Page Color and Page Borders options, it took less than a minute. That was easy, but you won’t always want to add color to every page.

How to add one color for a single page in Word

For better or worse, Word offers no option for adding a background color to a single page or multiple pages. It’s an all-or-nothing setting. If you want to color a single or multiple pages, but not the entire document, you can insert a rectangle shape sized to fit the page and set a few properties. Now, let’s use this method on the second page of a three-page document:

  1. Click the Insert tab, click Shapes in the Illustrations group, click the Rectangle shape and size it to the paper (Figure B).
  2. From the Shape Fill dropdown in the Shape Styles group, choose a color from the palette.
  3. With the rectangle selected, click the Send Backward option in the Arrange group, and choose Send Behind Text (Figure C).

Figure B

Figure C

Using this method, you could add more than one color to the background by using multiple rectangles, or even other shapes, but I recommend you keep it simple. To add a border, add a second rectangle, size it appropriately, and then remove the fill color and add a border color.

SEE: How to use the Dictate feature instead of typing in Microsoft Word (Tech Republic)

Once you have the rectangle and properties set (Figure D) you can quickly copy it to other pages. With the rectangle selected, press Ctrl+D to make a copy. Drag that copy and position it on another page. With this method, you can change the color for different pages.

Figure D

Make sure your colored page prints

If the background color doesn’t print, there’s an easy fix. Click the File tab and choose Display in the left pane. In the Printing options section, make sure the Print background colors and images option is checked, as shown in Figure E. The problem is that few printers can fulfill the promise. Most will leave a small uncolored border around the edges of the sheet of paper. There’s nothing you can do about this.

Figure E

How to color only one section of a page in Word

If you don’t want to color the entire page, you might want to consider adding color as a paragraph format. The good news is that it’s easy to apply or remove—you don’t even need a text box!

SEE: 4 tips for working more efficiently with footnotes and endnotes in Word (TechRepublic)

First, select the paragraph(s) you want to color. Then, in the Paragraph group, click the Shading dropdown and choose a color from the palette. As you can see in Figure F, I’ve used a light blue to shade a few paragraphs. You could use this method to color the entire portion of the page that’s inside the borders, leaving the borders white. The color is a paragraph property, so if you move the paragraph, the color goes with it.

Figure F

Stay tuned

Adding filled rectangles could be tedious work. But you’re in luck if you’re willing to add sections to the document. In a subsequent article, I’ll show you how to color the background of all the pages in a section with one rectangle.

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