Change text background color in confluence editor?


how do i change the background color of text in a confluence page?

As this is a very default feature of text processing software, why isn't there a button in the confluence editor for this like the button to change the text color?

Is this so hard to accomplish?

13 answers

1 accepted

6 votes
Accepted answer

Because it's not a common thing to want to do in a set of documentation. Remember this is a wiki, not authoring or design software - the content is vastly more important than the presentation

You can, of course, do it, just not in the basic editing function. I've used the {bgcolor} macro to do it, as well as {panel} for larger blocks of text. There's quite a few similar macros available for all sorts of formatting and highlighting. I don't know if Atlassian plan to add a quicker way to do it in the editor though.

Thank you for this very quick answer.

If changing text color is a common thing, why shouldn't be changing the text background color a common operation?

That's the thing, changing text colour is not that common. People do use it, and they do ask, but it's really not used as much as a lot of people think it is. Background colouring is even more unused, and people simply don't ask for it enough to make it worth implementing.

I've also found good reasons not to use coloured text (and background text is worse). For reading, a single colour is a lot easier to scan than changing ones. Coloured text should be used sparingly, and then the mistake that most people using colour (especially with background colour) is that they fail to consider contrast - all text should be high contrast, which really does rule out most combinations. And coloured and backgrounded text are a pain in the neck for some dyslexics, and people with vision issues.

I'd like to decide for myself whether I want to change background color or not. I don't need atlassian making that choice for me. I can't imagine how adding this option would take a long time, and for the people that do want it this would be very helpful.

I'd appreciate a background color (ant text color) as well. Just look at the marking of an inline comment. The marked text gets an nice and light background color. So why deny it for users of the confluence editor?

I'd would think highlighting would be more common than changing the text color. I want to make something stand out in my documentation, a nice yellow or red background does the trick when it's just a single word. You can add me to list of people who want this feature added.

I agree that background coloring is a good way to mark some important content.

huh - even in this forum/posting u can see gray text background... how can u say bg color is uncommon for wikis? <confused/>

You see it in panels here, not sentences or words. And try looking at the world's biggest wikis - they're all black on white or pretty close to it for over 90% of their content - panels being used for callouts and highlights.

I'd vote for background-color too. It's a good way to highlight in lists what status things are in currently for projects.

I've been a daily Confluence user for about 7 years. Today I absolutely had to background colour some text. I literally had to take a screenshot of the text in another application with the background colour required and upload it as an image. If this requirement doesn't come up for another 7 years, I can probably live with this. Otherwise, I note there is a Text Highlighter plugin that's reasonably priced.

I have been wanting this in Confluence for a few years now. C'mon Atlassian, just put in a canned macro for it. It's easy and it would be optional. You can't be THAT much of a zealot about this that it's worth contradicting the stated requests of real users. And anyway, it's a competitive feature for you - other wiki's have it, even as a button in their rich text editors. I'll be honest, if other wikis were as good in other ways, the lack of this feature would be enough to make me move to a competitor -- it's that important to my work flows (in PM and product development - I color code a LOT of stuff!)

I think background color is actually more useful than text color. Try setting text color to yellow for example, you just won't see such text on the screen - no wonder this feature not popular as you say. Suggested macros are mostly useless, they are not inline. Plus you can't compare it to simplicity of selecting background color from the color picker. Check how it's done in Google Docs, they still use single button, but dialog that pops up allows setting both text and background colors. Such implementation wouldn't affect you UI. My use case was essentially to highlight parts of text that changed: new with green, changed with yellow, and deleted with red. But instead of simply doing it, I have to spend my time and company's money writing posts like this.

While Confluence is primarily a wiki, not a text editor... background colour functionality is pretty fundamental. It is included in a limited capacity for tables (5 pastel colours). Surely it would not be terribly difficult to expand the palette or add a hex input and apply it to all content? We pay for the software, use it in a corporate environment with a brand style guide, but cannot format content to match those guidelines.

Just add highlighting already. When your customers say they want something and you say "Well that's not what a wiki is for" you're missing the point. 

I too NEED the text highlighting feature. The suggesting to use a macro is not an acceptable solution. Numerous people are asking for this feature and it isn't much different from text color. Please add the feature.

I would like this in a document I'm working on too, because I'm specifying a table of possible color codes that must be rotated over API calls for a screen test.

I need highlighting frequently. Confluence isn't just a wiki, it's our team collaboration tool. There are plenty of reasons to use color highlighting. We really shouldn't have to talk Atlassian into it. Theyput emojis (which I never need) in the Insert menu, for heaven sake,and bury Anchors (which I use all the time) under Insert > Other macros. Obviously what's useful isn't the governing factor.

Color highlighting is available for Notes, Info and Warning paragraphs, why not for selected words?

This seems like a missing feature. It is expected behavior in almost any editor these days.

People religiously surround portions of sentences with backticks in Slack. It does a lot at once:

  1. Changes the foreground text color
  2. Changes the background color
  3. Creates a rounded-corner border around the background in yet a third color
  4. Changes the font to monospace

Yes, count them, four different things. Why? Because, yes, it's that common and that important. Bold and/or italics on some screens isn't striking enough and easily glanced over. When trying to drag with the house to copy, the visual demarcation done in Slack makes a difference in getting the job done quicker. It much more effectively removes vagueness about precisely what is being highlighted.

Slack already did a good job of selecting three colors, plus a font change, to accommodate dyslexics, color blindness, and other visual or spatial impairments. Citing other wikis as just using one color is a throwback to more archaic days when multiple colors simply was not an option. It's not that they thought it was best – they had no choice. If you're mind is still desperately clinging those traditions, no one is forcing it on you.

This is a sentence I want to write: Log into the machine and use su - to gain escalated privileges. Using a code block breaks up the flow of the sentence. Rewording it to accommodate the code block is less natural. Bold and/or monospace alone aren't clear enough to the reader that a space and hyphen needs to be typed into the terminal after "su".

Your customers aren't asking to change the defaults for surrounding content in double curly braces from what it is now to the Slack-style. They are asking for a completely different and new formatting option for highlighting.


yes, I want it too, and would use it regularly

Me too.
In Word documents I highlight words and sections that need revision later with a yellow background, just like a real yellow highlighter - to highlight stuff I want to come back to. It would be useful to do the same in Confluence.

Also agree it's necessary and missing functionality.

Highlighting / background color would be useful. Adding emphasis to a text is universal. Currently, the only "acceptable" way to add emphasis is bold text, coloring the text is not for emphasis.

All arguments that I could have come up with have already been made.

All I have to say, is that I need it too.

I'm in a decision making position and have many friends with similar span of responsibility in other organizations. Based on what I experienced myself in the last few weeks (new job) and based on what I read here -- and in a few other threads, all demonstrating similar attitude by Atlassian, I'm starting to be sorry that I inherited Atlassian suite. It came with the job, but I CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. So can my friends.

There are many modern Wikis starting, some backed up by household name VCs, some backed up by companies with more money than .... that we do not have to tolerate this behavior.

A lot of companies thought that they are invincible and ingrained to the point of being irreplaceable. They were wrong. They are no longer that prevalent, some are no longer with us.

Thanks for nothing Atlassian.

Tibor I'm New Here Jul 13, 2018

@Nic Brough [Adaptavist] I disagree. I've been reading technical documentation, mostly software, since late 80s obviously first printed then pdf then online and the use of styling - including highlight - is very common to mark different concepts. Highlighting is also common to make something stand out, bold and underline are not as effective. Even ebook readers have this feature. Kindle definitely. 

+1 for adding button for changing text background collor

E.g. consider the following use case - i need to create quick status report... standard colors are green, yellow, red. Now imagine yellow text on white background - it doesn't read well - that's why i want simply to highlight with yellow background - but no such button ?!?!?!

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but Atlassian isn't going to add it. They don't care about what you use or how you'd use it. They care about making money on plugins. So while you buy their expensive confluence software, you don't get everything a free WYSIWYG editor would have. You get some bare essentials and some convenient formatting.

There is a level of irony that you get less when you pay more. It's for this reason, and Atlassian's obvious greed, that I will likely move my entire company away from Atlassian products as soon as the beginning of next year.

Atlassian's products look polished and pretty, but they're buggy at best. I see them updating the UI in our cloud account regularly, but with new UI comes new bugs. And there are tons of them. For the money you'd expect not only the options as basic as highlighting text, but good quality control as well.

I'd rather they spent their time and money on fixing what was broken or requested, than making us relearn where things are and how they work. I'm not a fan of this new UI, but mostly because I'm annoyed it came out before other more pressing issues were taken care of.

When it comes to functionality, you can bet that Atlassian will drag their feet until they don't have feet anymore, so long as they can sell plugins to fill those functionality gaps.

Tibor I'm New Here Aug 30, 2018

@Sven Vet

There's a Status macro in the Confluence instance I'm using exactly for the purpose you need. Unfortunately I don't know if it's built in or 3rd party but looks good.

status macro.PNG

Thanks Sven, this is a work around but for me it would work only in extreme cases. It is not natural, not part of regular editing and writing process, and it extend the BG color beyond what it should be.

I'm still saying the Confluence should make it part of the editor and as easy as changing FG font color.

I agree. The status macro's styling actually makes it unusable for my purposes. And let's face it: Atlassian isn't being honest about why they won't give us this functionality. It's like a car manufacturer saying they won't put the DC outlet in the car because people don't use them anymore. Except, they do and it's a standard feature on a car.

Highlighting text is a standard feature on WYSIWYG editors. But Atlassian telling us nobody would use it is ridiculous on its face.

And now we have people trying to do workarounds and half measures like using tools not meant to be used this way because Atlassian wants to sell plugins.

Sorry, but I don't buy their BS excuse. Adding a single button like the FG color button isn't going to hurt anyone using Confluence that wouldn't use the highlight function. It would only hurt plugin makers that ask for features to be removed so they can sell it back to those of us already paying a LOT of money for a WYSIWYG editor.

This is a basic feature that an editor should have. Seems like we are dancing around excuses. Just like there is a fg color set for a piece of text, there should be the same for bg.

As a product designer, you need to ask yourself a question: do you want the product have useful features that are easy to use, or spend time explaining philosophies and complicated procedures to people. 

Like 1 person likes this

I just tested this solution in Confluence a few moments ago to highlight individual words:

  1. Select desired text to Highlight.
  2. In Editor choose Insert (+ icon) >  "{ } Markup"
    • Insert-Markup.gif
  3. Change Type in "Insert" dropdown to "Markdown"
  4. Copy and paste the following into the editor as a template for your highlighting: 
    1. <span style="background-color: #ffff00;">Highlighted Text</span>
    2. <span style="background-color: yellow;">Highlighted Text</span>



The above technique works well for highlighting pre-existing text. If you need to add a blank, non-highlighted space to remove the highlighting and continue typing, repeat steps 1-3 above and insert the following:


<span style="background-color: white;">&nbsp;</span>



While this works, this solution is stupid. While I may use this solution, but I shouldn't be forced to do it.

Company that claims that setting text background color should be as inconvenient as possible, builds certain reputation with me and community in general.

Honestly, at this point I have very low expectations from Atlassian.

Although super clumsy, but this method works for me.  Thanks!

This worked for me!  I wish the markup didn't disappear after saving, however.  You can't re-edit; you have to re-enter the entire markup every time you want to change it.

This method doesn't work for me. LOL It appears that they've removed the ability to do this from the current version of Confluence cloud.

Even in the preview, it looks right, but after adding to the Confluence page, the highlight no longer exists. Not in the editor, and not in the saved page. So highlighting is effectively killed in Confluence.

Atlassian is very disappointing lately. They REALLY don't give a crap about its customers... Just their customers' money.

They're worse than an over-opinionated coding language.

You rock! This does exactly what I wanted in Confluence 6.11.0.

5 votes
Ann Worley Atlassian Team Nov 08, 2017

@Samuel Egger We have public-facing feature requests customers can vote on. Please do vote for this suggestion ticket I created based on this thread.

As a user I would like to change the background color of all or parts of a page

You may also comment to emphasize your use case. Voting or commenting adds you to notifications so you will know when there is progress.

With all due respect Ann, 

We are often asking, voting, and begging for improvements. Some or many of our requests are for the most basic of features that one should expect as standard in a 2018 editor. 

Basic highlighting is one of those very basic features. This has been requested for many years. Looking at the vote link As a user I would like to change the background color of all or parts of a page - gives an entirely false impression that only 48 Confluence editors want it and it's only a recent request from about a year ago.

It's not just that... I see or experience many other issues, limitations, or bugs that are *many* years old. I can site hundreds of examples from the above page (like CONFSERVER-28579). 

It leads me (or us) to ask, "What exactly do Atlassian sw engineers do?" - I'd laugh but seriously, I have dozen of issues that haven't been solved in years. You're actually worse than Google for resolving product issues. In fact, in my last job, I successfully argued against buying Atlassian Confluence. In my current job, I inherited a very large Confluence (SAAS) project. Unless I see a change in attitude or a reasonable explanation on the appearance that Atlassian doesn't actually care, I will replace you... if I ever find a suitable replacement.  

That's all, rant over. 

Yeah, I'm with Shawn here. As the person responsible for all dev-level services and tech we use for our projects and internal company organization, I'm not convinced the money we spend every month is really worth the service and support we get. It took an army of customers to prove to Atlassian there was a memory leak that crashed browsers in JIRA, and in doing so we found that Atlassian doesn't even test their software properly across platform and browser combinations. This followed by a suggestion from Atlassian to either stop using Linux (WTF?) or use a different browser - one that was also affected by the problem.

For a company worth around $10B, this is pretty awful. A company worth so much which other companies rely on so closely shouldn't be so cheap on the Dev/QA resources. While it isn't my place to tell a company what to do with their time and money, it is my decision that will sway if said company will receive money from my company. There are certainly other options out there for far less green.

As a developer, I know that you generally do get what you pay for with software. Though, there are exceptions to the rule. There must be equal value, and the long laundry list of year-old bugs that have not been solved, on its own, is highly disconcerting.

The ability to highlight is already a long wait, even for just an answer on whether it will or won't happen. Posts in this thread alone are over 4 years old. Add to that the fact that this "Vote" page to find out if people even want the feature came over 3 years after this thread was even created shows how little Atlassian cares about our opinions.

My rant is not over; it's on pause.

Hello Atlassian - Are you out there listening?  I know I have. Every time someone posts more on this thread, it just infuriates me more.

Being in product management and development it blows my mind that you have customers that have been requesting a simple enhancement for four (4) plus years and only response has been trust me you're asking for it but you really don't want it

I have read and tried a dozen plus hacks that users have suggested to get around what should just be an icon on the tool pallet. Changing the background color in a documentation tool shouldn't be a multi-click process with Javascript or CSS that requires a cheatsheet to remember. Using your product should NOT be some damn difficult!  

Apparently the attitude of Nik, the community champion back in 2014, is how Atlassian approach users' feedback.  It frustrates me to no end that Nik stated changing text colour is not that common. People do use it, and they do ask, but it's really not used as much as a lot of people think it is. How the hell can he quantify that? There are numerous people here requesting this enhancement. That means there are at least 10 more people out there wanting this feature for each person that has taken the time to provide feedback. The thing is, if you don't listen to your users, then your users will stop talking to you. The most valuable thing for improving the product is listening to your users. Product Management 101.

They will never add it. They can EASILY add it. I, too, and in product management and development. Anyone in my team could add text highlighting in 20 minutes to a WYSIWYG editor. Some, quicker.

Atlassian isn't going to add it because it would compete with their affiliates' plugin sales. I don't need proof to know this is a fact.

We need to pay $1/user for highlighting? No thanks. And it's not even available on cloud. There's so many obvious ways here that cloud users are getting screwed. Atlassian doesn't seem to care at all.

It's pretty disheartening that Atlassian has decided it's profits before quality. There should be a mass exodus from Atlassian's ecosystem. I know that in December I'm going to start my entire company's migration to alternatives.  And that's what happens when the Atlassian ignores the leads and managers of the tech teams.

Money, money, money! Hubba, hubba, hubba! Who do you trust?

+1 for mass exodus, I've hinted that I'll do it in the past elsewhere on this thread and I'm starting it this holiday season. Its a less busy time of the year baked-in with celebrating our release from Atlassian abuse of its users.

It is just impossible to work anymore with this suite and there is no reason to get stuck anymore either.

Liam Qtec I'm New Here Oct 03, 2018

@Rahav Did you have an alternative in mind? My company is looking for a documentation management system and Confluence is being seriously considered but if they can't get this right I'd like to keep looking around.

Avoid Confluence. Just avoid Atlassian all together. My company is putting together a plan and budget to move out of their ecosystem. If their customer service and tech support wasn't such a joke, and their integrations with other services like Gliffy weren't so janky, they'd be fine. But a polished turd is still a turd.

Atlassian hasn't even responded to deny that they won't put highlighting back because they have plugins to sell. That's how little they think of their customers: just dollar signs that will put up with this garbage and not even worth responding to.

In OnDemand, there's a {status} macro which allows you to highlight a single word or very short phrase in a coloured lozenge. I see people use it for Red-Amber-Green status a lot. 

If you're not using OnDemand, you can also define a highlight as a class in the global or space-level stylesheets, such as this

.highlight { bgcolor:yellow; }

Then you use the source editor to add the class to a paragraph, li or span tag.  

&lt;p class="highlight"&gt;Whole paragraph highlighted. &lt;/p&gt;.  
&lt;p&gt;Or just &lt;span class="highlight"&gt;highlight&lt;/span&gt; one word or phrase.&lt;/p&gt;


It's a bit long-winded but it works.  (Source editor isn't available in OnDemand). 



This is the solution that worked for me - Thanks! I did need to modify your CCS a bit. Work in latest versions of IE and Chrome. .highlightYellow { background-color: yellow; }

I'd like to see background colour as a formatting option. Seems crazy the workaround I had to go to, without even achieving what originally seemed so simple with other editors.

Found a "cheat" which works well for me for basic text highlighting (mid sentence even).

  1. Select the text you want to highlight with your mouse while viewing a page (note: not while you are editing the page)
  2. Wait a couple seconds, a pop-up will appear offering an "Inline Comment"
  3. Type in brief comment and hit enter.
  4. The text which was selected will now be highlighted for users, and if they click that text they will see your comment

This is supposed to be for "review" purposes, but it works perfectly for getting text quickly highlighted. 

Limitation:  Sadly this doesn't work in {code} or {noformat} blocks, but does work in {panel}

I also noticed "Inline Comment" function works well for text highlight. This "cheat" is best solution for me.

And I voted for this issue:

Is there any voting portal for features? We also need background highlighting. There often are some really important sections in protocols for example that need to be highlighted.

Hi Martin,

You can do this using macros like the Info, Note, Tip and Warning macro.

Or with the Adaptavist Content formatting macro's :

Best regards,


Yes, sorry, I said the {bgcolor} macro before, but didn't point at it, and I shold have. It's in the Adaptavist stuff as Peter says.

(I should say I work for Adaptavist for the sake of openness, but it was written a long time before I started there...)

The Info, Note, Tip and Warning macros place the text in a box with a header. This is not a solution for the request. People on this thread are asking for the ability to highlight a word or phrase.

I just tried using the Note macro in the documentation I'm working on. I had to undo the change because the Note box was ridiculous for the small amount of text I wanted to highlight in a paragraph.

Add me to the list of people who would really love to be able to highlight text in Confluence.

Welcome to Atlassian. It simply *wont* happen.

Frustrating how my asterisks in my reply did not do anything to the text, right? 8-))

It's still worth 15 seconds of your time to add a Vote here -

It may never happen but at least we can raise a flag and say that we want it :-)

I have opened a ticket up with Atlassian on this issue. Please vote it up to make sure that this feature gets the attention that it deserves.



1 vote

So far the only "answer" from Atlassian on this is "We think you don't need that feature so many people have clearly expressed that they need.". You don't get to tell customers what they need. It's been four+ years. Can you please implement this so we don't have to keep trying all of these half-baked hacks to fake our way through it?

I just got sent 2 badges via email from Atlassian.

They seem more interested in developing stupid badges than actually giving me a basic useful function in their tool.

Well, of course. They removed background color/highlighting so they could make a paid plugin (or allow their associated developers to make a plugin).

Atlassian is lost at sea and they're on borrowed time.

If your site has HTML editing enabled (won't work on a new page; save and edit first),

1. Use the regular text color icon to designate what will become your background colors

2. Edit HTML (the "<>" icon in the upper right) and search/replace to change




3.  Click "Apply" and save.

You can apply this selectively if you can read your HTML well enough, and/or you can reverse the substitution to get the toolbar button to work again, and/or you can change the text color _after_ moving the first color to the background to do color-on-color text.

Not as good as a real background color option (which we won't get), but more efficient than editing HTML/markup for every single instance of color; this way you can do all at once in bulk.  Just don't do anything so extravagant you can't fix the HTML if you mess something up, and be prepared to fix the resulting <span>s if you find the colors bleeding between lines or list entries.

I've found the inline span method is good for changing the font within a paragraph:

To change the font on the entire page:

1. add the CSS macro (from the '+' menu, or type '{css' and select the CSS macro

2. Inside the CSS macro, add the commands to change the font type, eg. the following will change the type of the font for the whole page to Times.

#content {font-family: Times;}



Several fonts are generally available to all browsers, for a fuller list, go here:

The point is not in finding workaround, but making it convenient, untuitive, and easy.

Imagine that you'd need to look for workaround for background color in MS Word, MS Excel, Google Docs, Google Sheets, OpenOffice Writer, and any other editor.

Confluence editor is the only exception and in a stupid, inexplicable way.

Like 1 person likes this

@Maksym Kovalenko I so agree with you. I just need a button that can do this.

I agree too.  People are using wiki in ways beyond which it was originally intended.

There is an elegance to having the formatting defined independently from the content.  And, it makes it simple to change the appearance by having that kind of control.  That isn't a Confluence element, that is the heart and soul of the HTML and CSS design.  Confluence is supporting that. 

However, HTML also gives us a lot of power in manipulating bits and pieces, and many of these are not supported in the confluence interface. The lack of support for basic elements wastes a lot of time, as one person after another, not just admins, has to discover how to do things that are standard features in systems since the 1990s. 

Until Confluence comes to understand that their community of users has bigger demands, I've decided to share the solutions that I have found, hoping that others will too, so people don't have to waste as much time as i have searching for solutions.

I would love to see a system that gives me menu controls of so much more, for example to set standard properties like background colors, to really given Confluence the potential that it has.  It's an interesting tool.

<SCRIPT type="text/javascript">
var element = document.getElementById('main-content'); = "#33CCCC";

insert html 

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