In Excel you can press the Delete key to delete the contents of highlighted cells, but not the cells' fill color. Instead you need to click on the Fill tool on the ribbon and choose No Color.

Is there a shortcut key to this? I have done some Googling and it seems like the only way is to create a macro.

  • The workaround I use it the open the xls file in Open Office and then press "Delete" to delete the cell contents. The first time you do this you need to tick the option "Delete all" in this box: i.stack.imgur.com/ihmQM.png It then also deletes the cells background colour. Then save and reopen in excel.
    – Hennes
    Jul 29, 2013 at 11:26

2 Answers 2


There are 3 functions in Excel to do this: Clear All, Clear Formats and Clear Contents

Clear All removes content and all formatting (i.e. Bold/Italic/Underline, Borders etc as well as the colours)

Clear Formats removes all formatting, leaving the cell content.

Clear Contents removes cell content, leaving the fromatting.

In Excel 2010 the buttons are located on the right hand side of the Home ribbon bar, under the Clear menu.

These can be accessed by the following key combination (do these one after another, not at the same time):

Clear All Alt -> h -> e -> a

Clear Formats Alt -> h -> e -> f

Clear Contents Alt -> h -> e -> c

enter image description here

  • Clear All would be what I'm looking for here. Still need a macro to "reduce" the key combination to a shortcut like Ctrl+d. Thanks!
    – jingtao
    Jul 29, 2013 at 13:28
  • also note that newer Excel should still support "old" key shortcuts, like ALT,E,A,F for "Clear All Formatting"
    – drzaus
    Dec 4, 2013 at 14:37

My prefered way is to use the Format Painter tool enter image description here on the Standard Menu bar.

You can find a description here.

Simply select a cell which has the desired format and background color. Then click on the Format Painter icon. Finally click on the cell (range) you want to format.

If you double-click the Format Painter, Excel allows you to format multiple ranges until you hit the ESC key.

There seems to be no predefined keyboard shortcut for Format Painter. However, a VBA macro could be used to get one, if you realy want one.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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