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Why is the border color not showing in excel?

As an Excel user, you may have encountered an issue where you apply a border color to a cell or range of cells, but the border color does not appear. This can be frustrating, especially when you need the borders to stand out. In this article, we’ll explore some of the common reasons why border colors may not be displaying properly in Excel, and provide troubleshooting tips to help resolve the issue.

Ensure Borders are Enabled

The first thing to check is that borders are actually enabled for the cells you have selected. While it may seem obvious, it’s easy to overlook that cell borders may not be enabled by default. To check:

  1. Select the cell(s) where you want to apply a border.
  2. Go to the Home tab on the ribbon and look for the Font group.
  3. Check that the Borders button is enabled – it should appear highlighted rather than greyed out.
  4. If Borders is disabled, click the button to toggle it on.

Once borders are enabled, you should be able to apply and see border colors.

Check Border Style Settings

If borders are enabled but you still can’t see the color you applied, the next thing to check are the border style settings. By default, Excel may have certain border styles applied that prevent the color from appearing.

To review the border style settings:

  1. Select the cell(s) where border color is not showing.
  2. Right click and choose Format Cells from the menu.
  3. In the Format Cells dialog, go to the Border tab.
  4. Check that the border color you want to apply is showing up in the Color palette.
  5. Check that the border Line style is not set to None or Double. Setting to Solid or Hairline styles will allow the color to show.
  6. Click OK to apply the changes.

Adjusting the border line style and color in the Format Cells dialog should resolve issues with border colors not displaying.

Verify Cell Alignment & Text Wrapping Settings

Cell alignment and text wrapping can also sometimes cause border colors to disappear or not show up properly. Here are some things to verify:

  • Alignment – Select the cells with missing border color and check the alignment. Center, Fill, Justify and other alignments can override border rendering. Set alignment to Left to check if that fixes borders.
  • Text Wrapping – Long text in a cell that wraps to multiple lines can cover up cell borders. Check that text wrap is disabled on cells where border color is missing.
  • Merge Cells – Merged cells can sometimes lose formatting like borders for individual cells. Unmerge any cells that are merged, then reapply the border color.

Resetting alignments, text wrapping and unmerging any merged cells may help get border colors to appear correctly.

Modify Border Color Priority Order

If you are applying multiple types of formatting to the same cells, there can sometimes be a conflict with which format takes priority. For example, if you apply both cell shading and a border color, only one will win out due to the internal style precedence in Excel.

To change this priority order:

  1. Right click on the selected cells and choose Format Cells
  2. Go to the Border tab and click on the arrow in the bottom right Priority section
  3. In the pop-up, arrange the priority order so that Border Color is on top
  4. Click OK to apply the new priority order

With border color set as the highest priority style, it should now show up instead of being overridden by another format like cell fills.

Reset to Default Formatting

If all else fails, do a complete reset of the cell formatting:

  1. Select the cells where border color is not appearing.
  2. Click the Reset Formatting option in the Font group on the Home tab.
  3. Reapply the border color.

Resetting removes any stray formatting that may be interfering with proper border rendering.

Use Conditional Formatting for Borders

An alternative to normal cell borders is to apply borders using Conditional Formatting rules. This can help get around some of the precedence issues.

To use Conditional Formatting for borders:

  1. Select the cells to apply border formatting to.
  2. On the Home tab, open the Conditional Formatting dropdown and choose New Rule.
  3. Select the ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format’ option.
  4. Enter a simple formula like =TRUE
  5. Click Format and select Border tab.
  6. Set Line style to Solid and choose your Border Color.
  7. OK to close all dialogs.

The conditional formatting rule will now apply the border color and override any other formatting priority issues.

Check Print Settings for Borders

If you still don’t see the border colors on screen, check your print settings:

  1. Go to File > Print to open print settings.
  2. On the Sheet tab, click on Page Setup.
  3. In Page Setup go to the Sheet tab.
  4. Check that Gridlines and Cell Boundaries are enabled to print.

Borders and gridlines print differently than they display on screen. Ensuring these settings are enabled may resolve issues printing border colors even if they don’t display on screen.

Remove Duplicate Borders

In some cases, you may have duplicate border formatting applied to the same cells. This can result in borders not displaying properly.

To check for duplicate borders:

  1. Select the cells with border issues.
  2. On the Home tab, open theConditional Formatting Manager.
  3. Look for any duplicate border formatting rules and delete them.
  4. There should only be one rule defining the cell borders.

Removing any copies of the same border formatting will help ensure that only one border style is applied.

Restart Excel and Reset Display Settings

Some issues with borders not showing correctly are due to display glitches or file corruption in Excel. Some things to try:

  • Completely close and restart Excel to clear any memory issues.
  • Adjust your Display settings in Windows to use a higher DPI or smaller text scaling.
  • Go to File > Options and on the Advanced tab, set the option to reset display settings next time Excel opens.

Restarting Excel and resetting the display often resolves many odd glitches with borders and other formatting not rendering properly on screen.

Check for File Corruption

In rare cases, your Excel file itself may be corrupt and causing issues with borders and formatting. Some signs of a corrupt file are:

  • Formula errors showing #VALUE or #REF
  • Charts or pictures not displaying properly
  • File crashes or won’t open
  • Cell borders, colors, gradients not displaying

To troubleshoot a corrupt Excel file:

  1. Try opening a fresh copy of the file if available.
  2. Open Excel > File > Open and navigate to your file.
  3. Click the arrow next to the Open button and choose Open and Repair.
  4. Select Extract Data if the file cannot be repaired.

Repairing or extracting data from a corrupt file can often resolve issues like cell borders not showing properly.


Troubleshooting missing border colors in Excel involves checking for common formatting issues like disabled borders, border priority conflicts, alignment settings, duplicate formatting, and file corruption. Following the tips outlined in this article should help resolve most situations where applied border color is not appearing in Excel. Don’t hesitate to reach out for further assistance if needed!

Issue Solution
Borders disabled Enable borders under Font group on Home tab
Border style conflict Set solid/hairline style and priority order in Format Cells
Cell alignment interference Reset alignment to Left
Duplicate borders Remove extra border rules
Display glitches Restart Excel, reset display settings
File corruption Repair or extract data from corrupt file