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MS Word: Color Backgrounds for an Entire Paragraph

There are times when I’ve found myself working in MS Word, and I’ve needed a title or header for a page or section that was more of a title bar… something like this:


To create it, I could choose a text box and then format it appropriately but the reality is that  it’s not necessary.

Instead I can choose to shade the paragraph(s) of the title and just format the text as needed.

The shading is actually a very easy task to accomplish, and the text formatting would have to be done regardless of the method chosen to put the title into the document.

If it’s a simple thing to do, I figure that it’s worth a minute to explore it – you never know when something like this just might be the tool you need…

To start, you’ll need to place your cursor in the paragraph to be shaded. (If you’re shading multiple paragraphs, select text so that you have some from each paragraph.)

Please remember that by definition a paragraph is created every time you hit the Enter key, so a two-line title would technically contain two paragraphs and you’d need to select a portion of both lines.

Once you’re set with the selection part, we’re off to the Home tab of the Ribbon, Paragraph group, Shading button.


When the shading button is clicked, you’ll find the usual array of theme color choices, the Standard Colors and the More Colors choice to go after any color your heart may desire.

Choose a color.

The result is that your paragraph is now completely shaded in a rectangular form, with the background color of your choosing.

With that done, make any text formatting changes you feel are necessary.

To add the shadow effect, you see on my example, you’ll need the Borders and Shading button.


When you click the down-arrow, you’ll find a rather long list of choices. At the very bottom, you’ll find the Borders and Shading choice.

With this choice, the Borders and Shading dialog box will open to the Borders tab.


Below the preview, you should find that it’s already set to apply the settings to the current paragraph(s).

The settings here are the same as they were in all previous versions of Word.

Choose a border type, line weight, line style, color and location for the paragraph border.

When you’re satisfied with your choices click OK.

Voila – a title bar that’s a part of the text flow, instead of a separate object, like a text box would be.

At this point, I will admit that this isn’t the same look as all the 3-D stuff and other great effects offered for a text box… on the other hand, it’s clean and easy to accomplish without worries about text wrapping or placement.

It’s a trade-off, and you now have the knowledge to choose whatever option would work best for each situation.

~ April