Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Related to this question: Show cell selection in Excel when not in focus except that my case concerns Microsoft Word.

When I select text or a column/row in Microsoft Word or Excel (2003, 2007, 2010 or 2013) it shows up highlighted like this in Word:

enter image description here

and Excel:

enter image description here

However, when I change focus to another program, the highlighted text is no longer highlighted.

I generally work with 2 monitors, where one monitor contains a document/spreadsheet containing data I need to read, and the other monitor is where I am actually doing work. I will select some text (or cells) to make it stand out amongst the many pages of data, and then switch programs, but the highlighted text is no longer visible.

Is there a permanent solution to this problem?

share|improve this question

A quick way to fix half of your problem (when switching from Excel to Word) is to copy the text. When you hit Ctrl + c the cells will continue to be marked (the highligthing is gone, but you still have a dotted line around the text).

A downside to this, is that the text are only marked, as long as you hold the cells copied. Meaning you can't copy anything else or the marking is gone. Unfortunately this will not work from Word to Excel.

share|improve this answer
up vote 7 down vote accepted

This seems to be an exclusive Microsoft "feature". For most projects I only need read-only access and formatting doesn't matter in my case, therefore I have switched to OpenOffice which does not exhibit this behavior.

share|improve this answer

there is no permanent solution to this problem.

a workaround (may get annoying in a while) would be to change the highlighting of the selected cells while they are selected and re-select them again to drop the color.

Stick this code in Sheet1 code behind and go to you spreadsheet and select some cells, select other ones then re-select the first ones to drop the color

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
    Dim cell As Range

    For Each cell In Target.Cells
        If cell.Interior.Color = RGB(60, 150, 230) Then
            cell.Interior.Pattern = xlNone
            cell.Interior.Color = RGB(60, 150, 230)
        End If
End Sub
share|improve this answer
@DaveRook the idea of of changing the background color on either SelectionChange or Activate event should work for both Excel and Word. – user222864 Apr 28 '14 at 7:25
I had no idea - thank you – Dave Apr 28 '14 at 7:26

This VBa will actually do it but it assumes you are not NOT using highliting.

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
    ActiveCell.Worksheet.Cells.Interior.ColorIndex = xlNone
    ActiveCell.EntireRow.Interior.ColorIndex = 19
End Sub

As a massive work around (if the highlighting doesn't work for you), you could use something like JRuler (hear me out :) !! ) as this will allow you to leave the ruler on screen with the row in question above it so when your eyes return to that screen you can see where you were (so you can see, I lost my highlighting but at least I can see I was looking at row 3)!

Don't get me wrong, this is laborious and a pain if you're doing this a lot, but, it may suffice for any program (Word and Excel).

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.