I have an Excel 2010 spreadsheet. Right now, the entire background is at 40% gray, and need to be white/transparent.

  • There's no conditional formatting set.
  • The worksheet is not locked.
  • The individual cells are not locked.
  • I am able to click Fill Color
  • Paint Bucket > No Fill on the Home Ribbon, but the background remains gray
  • I can highlight (individual cells/ranges, whiole columns, whole
    rows, entire sheet) > right click > Fill Color (or Format Cells...)
    and change the cell color, but it remains gray
  • Cell style is set to "normal"
  • I can copy a properly formatted cell from another sheet using format painter, but the formatting doesn't take.
  • I've closed and restarted Excel multiple times, same results.
  • I've opened the file on multiple PCs; same results.
  • No themes are enabled.

I'm sure there's some checkbox buried in a tab that would only make sense to a Microsoft engineer...anyone familiar with and/or know how to fix this?


Apart from that, all formulae work fine and all data is correct. No other worksheet functionality appears to be affected.

  • Have you checked to see if there's any Themes enabled (on Page Layout Tab)?
    – dav
    May 14, 2013 at 13:19
  • No themes are selected. Forgot to add that to my initial list.
    – dwwilson66
    May 14, 2013 at 15:04
  • 1
    Have you checked for any VBA code?
    – Ellesa
    May 15, 2013 at 17:22
  • Can you share the file?
    – Amer
    May 16, 2013 at 8:51

1 Answer 1


You have covered many possible ways to fix the background being fixed, here are two additional ones to look for.

Do you have any Excel tables? Once removed you can fix the formatting

  1. Click anywhere in the table.
  2. On the Design tab, in the Tools group, click Convert to Range.

Source: Delete a table without losing the data or table formatting

Are there are Backgrounds?

  1. Click the worksheet that is displayed with a sheet background. Make sure that only one worksheet is selected.
  2. On the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup group, click Delete Background.

Source: Add or remove a sheet background

  • Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. Jun 18, 2013 at 20:40
  • Looks much better now! Jun 18, 2013 at 22:50

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