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Theme and Custom Colors

All Office documents can contain a color theme and a set of custom colors.

Color Theme Color

Office documents contain a color theme of 10 theme colors:

Theme colors

There are a selection of color themes to choose from:

color themes

Using the application interface, it is easy enough to create new color themes of defined colors:

Create new theme colors

In addition to the 10 colors in a color theme, there are also five tints of each color theme color. A total of 60 colors.

For a designer, wanting to include their brand colors in a document or template, there are several limitations to this feature:

  1. The five tints of each theme color cannot be defined; the application defines them automatically
  2. The theme colors cannot be named; the application makes up its own name
  3. As it is advisable not to replace black or white in the theme, there are effectively only eight available colors in a color theme to customize

Custom Colors

As well as the 10 theme colors and their five tints, an Office document can also contain up to 50 custom colors:

custom color palette

Each theme color can also be named to follow brand guides, for example, “Corporate Blue 80%”, “Shiny Red with a hint of Lime”.

Custom colors greatly extend the functionality of the application and make it easier for designers to give users the best chance of using the correct color and tint from the brand guides.

Custom colors can be used to format text and objects, including shapes and chart data series.

The main problem with custom colors is that there is no way to create them through the application interface.

How to add custom colors to a document:

1. Unzip the document

Each Office document is a actually a collection of zipped XML files. Make a copy of the document – it can all go horribly wrong. Rename the document and unzip it or use a utility such as 7-zip to open the archive.

7-zip archive of xml

2. Open the XML file

Open the XML file with any text editor or specialist source code editor, such as Notepad++.

OOXML in Notepad++

3. Type the Office Open XML (OOXML)

Type the required OOXML in the correct place, in the correct file, using the correct syntax. Be careful, OOXML is very precise and case-sensitive. One small error and the document may be corrupted and will not open again in its native application.

4. Save and zip

Save the edited XML file, close the archive or zip and rename the document.

Adding custom colors to a document is quite complex but rewarding. It is even more difficult to do on Mac than in Windows, where there are fewer useful utility applications.

Custom Colors and Office Templates

Here at Office Templates, we have had a lot of experience of adding custom colors to Word and PowerPoint templates and we would be happy to assist. Let us the know the color breakdowns and how to name each color and we will add them to your Word, PowerPoint and Excel templates.


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