Color differences are probably the first thing that human eye can catch. Because a visualization should be easy to understand, different colors may be your best option to express opposite data like positive and negative values. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to set different colors to positive and negative numbers in column chart or bar chart in Excel.

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By default, an Excel chart displays items in the same series by the same color. Basically, colors are set differently by series. Thus, you may think that you can create helper columns to set different colors to positive and negative numbers in a column chart. This is not a bad approach. However, both column and bar charts in Excel already have an option called Invert if negative.

As the implies, the Invert if negative option allows you to set different colors for positive and negative numbers. Unfortunately, this option is available for column and bar charts only.

You can learn more about column and bar chart types in their individual articles:


  1. Start by creating either a column or a bar chart.
  2. Right-click on a data series column and choose Format Data Series from the context menu to display properties pane.
    Note: If you do not see Format Data Series option, double-check which item is selected. It is common to click and select an unwanted item on a chart.
  3. Activate Fill & Line tab in the right pane and click on Fill to see the options.
  4. Select Solid Fill
  5. Check Invert if negative
  6. Finally select colors for positive and negative data points.
    How to set different colors to positive and negative in column or bar chart in Excel 03

You can follow the same steps for a bar chart as well.