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How do I change the background color in Word and print?

Changing the background color in Word can help highlight important text, make your document more visually appealing, or just add some color to a drab document. While Word has some built-in background color options, you can also customize the color to get exactly the look you want.

Changing Background Color in Word

Here are the steps to change the background color in Word:

  1. Select the text or object you want to change the background color of. To select all text in the document, press Ctrl+A.
  2. Go to the Design tab and click the Page Color button.
  3. Choose one of the theme colors in the drop-down menu, or click More Colors at the bottom to open a color picker and choose a custom color.
  4. Click the arrow next to Page Color and select Fill Effects to open formatting options. Adjust transparency or apply gradients for a more custom background.
  5. Click outside the text box to apply the color change.

This will change the background color behind the selected text or object. To remove a background color, select the text and click No Fill on the Page Color button.

Changing Page Color in Word

To change the background color of the entire page in Word:

  1. Go to the Design tab and click the Page Color button.
  2. Choose a theme color or custom color using the color picker.
  3. Click the arrow next to Page Color and choose Page Color Options.
  4. Check the Apply to: Whole document box. This will apply the color change to all pages.
  5. Click OK to apply the new page background color.

Changing the whole page color is useful for printing draft documents on colored paper or giving your document a uniform background.

Using a Picture or Texture as Background

In addition to solid colors, you can also set a picture or texture as the background in Word:

  1. Go to the Design tab and click the Page Color button.
  2. Click Fill Effects to open formatting options.
  3. Go to the Fill tab. Choose Picture or Texture for the fill.
  4. Browse your computer or insert an online image for a picture background. For textures, select one of Word’s built-in options.
  5. Click OK when done. The picture or texture will now fill the background.

Adjust the transparency to help text stand out against busier backgrounds. Play around with different effects like gradients to create more visual interest.

Setting Custom Margins and Bleeds

When changing background colors and adding graphics, you may want to adjust the page margins and bleed space:

  • Margins – The blank space between the edge of the page and where text/images begin. Wider margins create more empty space.
  • Bleed – The area where background graphics or color extend beyond the page margin to avoid white lines after printing and trimming. Bleeds should be 0.125-0.25 inches.

To set custom margins and bleeds in Word:

  1. Go to the Layout tab and click Margins.
  2. Choose Custom Margins to manually change the page margins.
  3. Click the Page Setup dialog box launcher in the lower right corner of the Page Setup group.
  4. On the Margins tab, change the values under Bleed to extend the background past margins.
  5. Click OK to apply the margin and bleed changes.

Printing Background Colors and Graphics

When you go to print your Word document after adding background colors or graphics, there are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • Printers often cannot print fully edge-to-edge. There will likely be a small white margin around the edges.
  • Colors may print slightly differently than how they appear on screen.
  • Make sure bleed settings extend the background past document margins.
  • For best results, do a test print on regular paper before printing a large quantity.

To ensure background colors and graphics print correctly:

  1. Go to the File tab and click Print.
  2. Under Settings, click the link for Print All Pages.
  3. Check the box for Print Background Colors and Images.
  4. Click Print Preview to see how the document will look printed.
  5. Make any adjustments needed to the bleeds, margins, or graphics.
  6. Click Print.

Troubleshooting Print Issues

If you notice any issues when printing background colors and images, here are some things to check:

Issue Solution
White lines or margins cutting into graphics or colors Increase bleed settings and margin width
Colors printing incorrectly Try a test print first or adjust color settings
Background not printing at all Make sure Print Background Colors and Images is checked
Graphics look pixelated or low quality Insert higher resolution graphics and images
Edges of graphics look jagged Increase bleed and extend graphics past trim

Adjusting bleed, margin, resolution, and color settings can help fix most background printing issues. Test prints allow you to troubleshoot problems before printing a large quantity.

Tips for Formatting Backgrounds

Here are some best practices for formatting background colors and graphics in Word:

  • Use high resolution images for best print quality.
  • Adjust transparency on colors to prevent text from being washed out.
  • Stick to common bleed and margin sizes like 0.25in bleed and 0.5in margins.
  • For solid backgrounds, set the whole page color instead of text boxes.
  • Limit colors and graphics behind text to avoid distractions.
  • Make sure to print a few test pages before a large print run.
  • Check that colors and graphics extend past the print margins.

Following basic formatting best practices will help ensure your background prints correctly the first time without issues.

Using Themes for Quick Formatting

Word includes several pre-designed themes you can use for quick formatting with coordinated fonts, colors, and graphics:

  1. Go to the Design tab and click Themes.
  2. Browse through the theme options and hover over any you like.
  3. Click on a theme to apply it to the document.
  4. You can customize the theme colors and fonts while maintaining the coordinated look.

Themes provide an easy way to give documents polished, professional formatting. The included background graphics and textures are designed to print well.

Saving Custom Backgrounds as a Template

Once you have formatted a document with your preferred background colors and graphics, you can save it as a template for quick reuse:

  1. Go to the File tab and select Save As.
  2. Choose the place you want to save the template.
  3. For file type, choose Word Template (*.dotx).
  4. Give your template a name and click Save.

After saving as a template, you can easily create new documents using your custom background:

  1. Go to File > New and browse your personal templates.
  2. Double click your saved template to create a new document.
  3. The new document will include all formatting and backgrounds.

Building a template library helps streamline creating documents with polished, professional designs.

Using Sections for Multiple Backgrounds

Sections in Word allow you to divide a document into parts and format each section differently. This is useful for applying multiple background colors or graphics in one document:

  1. Place your cursor where you want to start a new section.
  2. Go to the Layout tab and click Breaks > Section Break Next Page.
  3. Select the new section and apply custom formatting and backgrounds.
  4. Repeat to create additional sections as needed.

Use page breaks to divide your document into logical sections, like chapters, and customize the look of each section.


Changing the background color and adding graphics in Word is a great way to customize and enhance your documents. By following bleed and margin best practices, backgrounds can print cleanly and professionally. Using themes or saved templates can speed up formatting polished documents, while sections help divide long documents into logical parts with different looks. With a little experimentation, you can create visually engaging printed documents of all kinds by leveraging background colors, graphics, and images in Word.