Protected sheet allows cell formatting but not font colour change

Copper Contributor

I have an Excel spreadsheet that users access and edit online.  The sheet is protected and users can select unlocked cells and format cells.  Until recently, users could change the font colour but this has now changed.  Users still can change the fill colour.  What has gone wrong?

9 Replies


It is possible that the protection settings for the sheet have been changed. When you protect a sheet in Excel, you can specify which actions are allowed for users. If the Format cells option is checked, users will be able to format cells, including changing the fill color.

However, if the Format cells option is not checked, users will not be able to change the font color.


Here are the steps you can take to set the protection settings for a sheet in Excel for the web:

  1. Open the Excel spreadsheet in Excel for the web and select the cells that you want to lock or unlock.
  2. On the Home tab, click on the Format button and then click on Format Cells.
  3. In the Format Cells dialog box, go to the Protection tab and check or uncheck the Locked option as needed.
  4. Click on OK to apply the changes.
  5. On the Review tab, click on Protect Sheet.
  6. In the Protect Sheet dialog box, check or uncheck the options as needed to allow or disallow specific actions by users.

After following these steps, users should be able to format cells on the protected sheet, including changing the fill color and font color.

Thanks for the suggestion, @NikolinoDE .  I verified that 'format cells' is checked off when protecting the sheet.  When it isnt checked, both fill and font colour are greyed out.  I went through the process again (using my desktop version of Excel) of protecting the sheet and ensured 'format cells' was checked but font colour cannot be changed, although cell fill is available to be selected.


It's odd that only one of the formating features (cell fill) is showing active when the sheet is protected.  This leads me to believe this is a programming issue with Excel online.


It is possible that this is a programming issue with Excel online, as you mentioned.

One thing you can try is to check if there are any specific font colors that are allowed for the protected cells. In Excel, you can set up specific allowed values for certain cells or ranges of cells.

 If the font color you are trying to use is not one of the allowed values, it will not be available to use.


To check if there are any allowed values for font color, select the protected cells and go to the Data Validation option in the Data tab of the ribbon.

 In the Data Validation dialog box, select the Settings tab and look for any restrictions on the font color.


If there are restrictions, you can remove them or modify them as needed.

If there are no restrictions on font color, it may be worth checking if there are any add-ins or other customizations that are interfering with the font color option. You can try disabling any add-ins or customizations and see if that resolves the issue.


May be you can try to solve this with VBA.


However, please note that the level of protection may vary depending on the type of account you are using (e.g. personal, business, or educational) and the settings configured by your organization's administrator. If you are still experiencing issues with formatting cells after following these steps, you may need to check your organization's policies or contact your administrator for further assistance.


I hope this helps!

Thank you for the help...there were no restrictions in the Data Validation settings and I cleared everything to be sure. This font colour issue is a new one that recently arose; I've never had this issue with this spreadsheet in the past. Same problem and I'm the oy user with access to modify it, which is why I have it protected. I see some updates to the format and features in Excel, which is why I think this is a glitch with Microsoft. I have a business license for our users so I'll send this to our IT contact to see if they can find a solution.

@SeanOCDJ Hello! Did you manage to find any solution? We have this problem since april and I'm really looking forward to a solution but unfortunatelly I found nothing.


Thank you!

@olaszlo90 No solution's been crickets with Microsoft too. The only suggestion I got was to provide feedback through the Microsoft 365 admin center. I did that 3 weeks ago and havent heard anything or seen a solution.

It's very simple. I don't know why Microsoft not understand and addressed this problem from many years. Actually in case of change in display of a system mostly selection of "high contrast" caused this problem. Solution is simple that off the "high contrast" option from your windows display setting. @NikolinoDE 

@AURANGZEB545 That wasn't it.  It was a Microsoft issue that magically repaired itself one day.

It is very simple. I don't know why Microsoft not understand and addressed this issue from long time. If you have changed your Windows display setting you can face Excel problem. Specially if you select the option "High Contrast" from Display setting of your Windows. You can off this option from Windows Display setting. Hopefully after that you can see the colors.