Office 2007 introduced the concept of themes to Excel and Word. If someone is designing a report in both Word and Excel, they could choose the identical theme from both Word and Excel to ensure that the documents have the same look and feel.
The Office 2007 Page Layout tab offered 20 built-in themes. Office 2010 adds a dozen more. Rather than use one of the built-in themes, you can easily design a theme and distribute it to all of your Office users.
A theme is comprised of 6 accent colors, a headline font, a body font, and a set of effects.
To create a new theme, you should first choose a set of effects. Using the 2007 or 2010 version of Word or Excel, go to the Page Layout tab of the ribbon. Open the Effects dropdown near the left side of the ribbon. This dropdown offers many thumbnails, which you will never understand unless you know the code. Each thumbnail shows a circle, an arrow, and a rectangle. Many Office galleries such as the Shape effects gallery offers six rows of choices. The effects move from "Simple" to "Moderate" to "Intense" as you move to lower rows in the gallery. The effect applied to the circle in the thumbnail is used for "Simple" effects. The effect applied to the arrow is used for "Moderate" effects. The effect applied to the rectangle is used for "Intense" effects. Armed with this information, you can figure out that the Civic theme is going to use a dotted line for simple effects and that Opulent is going to use a glass effect for intense effects. You can't mix and match here, so choose one and move on.
Next, you have to choose two fonts. Open the Fonts dropdown and choose Create New Theme Fonts from the bottom of the dropdown. Choose a Heading font and a Body font. The Body font should be something easily readable. If you happen to have a custom font in use that mirrors your company logo, that might be a good choice for the Heading font.
Choosing colors is the hardest process. Open the Colors dropdown and choose Create New Theme Colors.... The first four colors are used for Text on either light or dark backgrounds. It is fine to leave those as black, white, blue and grey. The next six colors are the important ones, as they are used for chart fills, SmartArt themes, fill color choices and so on. Someone in your marketing department can provide the RGB values for the colors used in the company logo. These can be the first 2 or 3 colors in the theme. Then, use a tool such as ColorSchemer.com to find complementary colors for the logo colors. Once you have the RGB codes for the six colors, open each color dropdown and choose More Colors. Dial up the correct Red, Green, and Blue colors using the Spin Button.
At the bottom of the Create New Theme Colors dialog, there is a Name box. Give your theme a name, such as OurCo Theme.
To combine the Effects, Fonts, and Colors, open the Themes dropdown and choose Save Current Theme. Use a name such as OurCo.thmx.
This tiny file is stored in %AppData%\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes\. To provide the theme to other users, copy the .thmx file to the same folder on each PC.
Bill Jelen is the host of MrExcel.com and the author of 31 books about Microsoft Excel. Before founding MrExcel.com in 1998, he spent 12 years in the trenches in the accounting, finance, and operations departments, honing his power Excel skills. The MrExcel.com website answers 30,000 Excel questions a year, for free, for readers around the world. Jelen hails from Akron, Ohio.
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