How to Set Up Excel Default Formatting?

It may seem like an insignificant matter, but getting your Office applications set up properly before you start working is a smart move. Think about all the times you have had to change formatting options on existing workbooks and tally up that time — it adds up.


Three tips that will help you to reset Excel’s default formatting. Set them once, and never again.

#1: Setting Formatting Options for Workbooks

Excel does not offer many options that allow you to set formatting defaults for your workbooks. However, you can work around this by modifying the formatting in a blank workbook, then saving it as the default template.

  1. Open Excel to a blank workbook.
  2. Format the blank file with all options desired. For example, set margins, cell color formats, or set up a header or footer. Make sure to remove any values you entered in cells to test formatting unless you want them to appear in every blank workbook.
  3. Once your changes are made, click on the File tab and choose Save As.
  4. From the “Files of type” drop-down list, select “Excel Template (*.xltx)” and change the file name to “Book.”
  1. Set the “Save in” location to theXLSTART folder. This folder is typicallylocated in a path similar to C:Program Files/Microsoft Office/Office14/XLSTART.
    • The quickest way to find its location is to use the Immediate window in the Visual Basic Editor (VBE), as follows:
    • Press [Alt]+[F11] to launch the VBE.
    • If the Immediate window isn’t visible, press [Ctrl]+g.
    • In the Immediate window, type ? application. StartupPath and press Enter.
      VBA will display the path to XLStart.
  2. Click Save.
  3. Quit and re-open Excel. The blank workbook should contain the formatting you previously set.

#2: Changing the Default Font for New Workbooks

We all have our quirks; that’s what makes us unique. One of these things can be the font you choose as your default. To change the default font used in new workbooks in Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the File tab.
  2. Select Options at the bottom left.
  3. Under General options there is a section for “When creating new workbooks.”
  4. Here you can select the option to change the font and font size for all new workbooks.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Close and re-open Excel.

After you restart Excel, any new workbook you create will be set for the new font properties you selected. Note that existing workbooks will not be affected.

#3: Setting Formatting Options for Workbooks

Why does Excel always open up with three blank worksheets? If you’ve found yourself continually deleting those extra two, stop already. Excel offers a way for you to specify the defaults for new workbooks, which includes number of worksheets. Follow the steps below:

  1. Click on the File tab and choose Excel Options.
  2. In the General group, navigate to the section titled “When creating new workbooks.”
  3. You can change the number of sheets created in a new workbook by changing the “Include this many sheets” option.
  4. Click OK after making your selections.
  5. Close and re-open Excel.

Excel will use your options from now on when creating a new workbook, saving you time when setting up each new file.

Have any Excel or general Office tips to share? Post them in the comments section.

Also Read

Resources: Excel Formatting


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