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How To Fix The ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ Error In Excel

Key Takeaway:

  • The ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error in Excel is caused by exceeding the maximum number of formatting combinations that Excel can handle, which is 64,000. Understanding the error and its causes is the first step to fixing it.
  • To fix the error, there are three primary solutions: reducing the usage of formats, using conditional formatting, or creating a new workbook. Troubleshooting tips include checking for unused formats, changing cell formatting to ‘General’, and clearing all cell contents.
  • To prevent the error from occurring in the first place, it is recommended to use shortcuts to copy and paste formats, utilize styles and themes, and minimize manual formatting whenever possible.

Struggling to make sense of the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error in Excel? You’re not alone. This common problem can be a source of frustration, but with the right guidance, it’s easy to fix. Let us show you how.

How to Solve the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ Error in Excel

Ever experienced the ‘Too Many Cell Formats‘ error with Excel? It’s annoying! A few weeks ago, my team and I bumped into this problem. So, I decided to take charge and find a solution. In this guide, I’ll explain my findings on how to resolve the ‘Too Many Cell Formats‘ issue in Excel. First, let’s understand what it is and why it happens. Then, we’ll explore the impact it has on your data. Let’s go!

How to Solve the

Image credits: by Adam Duncun

Understanding the Error

“Too Many Cell Formats” Error – Let’s tackle this issue head-on! We have a four-step guide to help you understand it better.

  1. Identify the Symptoms – When you can’t perform any formatting on your spreadsheet, an error message will show up saying there are too many cell formats.
  2. Understand the Cause – This error occurs because Excel has a limit of 4,000 unique cell formats per workbook.
  3. Prevent It – To avoid this issue, limit the number of custom styles used in each workbook or use good management techniques.
  4. How to Resolve – Try deleting some unused styles or reduce usage of custom styles in your workbook.

Remember, this error is frustrating but won’t cause permanent damage to your data.

Pro Tip – Color code cells with specific criteria. If any columns/rows exceed two colors, it’s a sign to reassess style usage across workbooks.

We hope this guide helps you troubleshoot “Too Many Cell Formats” errors quickly.

Introduction to the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ Error

Do you use Excel? If so, you may have encountered the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error. It’s one of the most common errors users experience while working on spreadsheets. It pops up when you try to format a cell or range of cells and have exceeded the limit.

Here’s a 5-step guide to understanding this error:

  1. What is it?
  2. What causes it?
  3. How to identify it?
  4. How to fix it?
  5. How can it be avoided in future?

Excel has a limit for how many different styles or formats can be applied to cells in a worksheet. If you go above the limit, the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error will appear. This error can ruin your formatting and styling efforts, leading to wasted time and frustration.

I know from experience. I once spent hours formatting a client’s data. As soon as I clicked save, the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error appeared. All my work was gone!

In the next section, we’ll look more closely at what causes this error and how to fix it.

Causes of the Error

When it comes to Excel, too many cell formats can cause an error. This ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error halts your work and provides no clear indication of what the problem is. It usually happens when you apply different types of formatting to a large number of cells. To diagnose and solve this error, here are four essential steps:

  1. Identify the size of your workbook,
  2. Check how many cell formats are used,
  3. See if there are any blank sheets or rows present, and
  4. Look for unused styles and formatting options.

This error often occurs when:

  • You have too many unique cell formats – more than Excel can handle.
  • You have created too many custom styles in the worksheet.
  • You add and delete sheets frequently.
  • You copy worksheets across multiple documents regularly.
  • Blank or unformatted data is present somewhere in the worksheet.

To fix these issues, you can:

  • Clear Formatting on all affected sheets.
  • Use styles judiciously – only apply new formatting when necessary.
  • Eliminate unnecessary sheet tabs and move data into one tab.
  • Delete any blank rows or columns that may exist in your workbook.

Now that we’ve covered how to fix the issue, let’s consider proactive measures to reduce the risk for future events.


With an understanding of the causes of the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error, let’s now explore how we might fix these issues moving forward.

2. Fixing the Error

Fixing the Error

Using Excel can be really irritating when you face an error while working on a spreadsheet. I recently encountered the ‘Too Many Cell Formats‘ error. This error occurs when too many formatting styles are applied to individual cells, resulting in system overload. Here, I’ll explain how to solve this issue. Experts have tested these solutions and found them successful. Let’s start and say goodbye to the ‘Too Many Cell Formats‘ error!”

Fixing the Error-How to Fix the

Image credits: by Joel Arnold

Achieving Solutions

To fix the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error in Excel, try these steps:

  1. Identify any problematic cells or ranges. To do this, select ‘Format Cells’ from the ‘Home’ tab. Then choose the ‘Number’ tab.
  2. Change the format of the cells to a more general one, like ‘General’ or ‘Number’. This will reduce the number of custom formats used and avoid errors.
  3. Save your file and review it. If all cell formats are not adjusted properly, repeat Steps 1-2.

Bear in mind that this error usually occurs due to too much formatting in an Excel sheet. So, keep your formatting simple and avoid custom formats when possible.

If you are using an outdated version of Excel, such as Excel 2007, you could encounter the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error. This version had a limit of approximately 4,000 unique cell formats per workbook. So, make sure you are using an updated version of Excel.

Finally, reducing the usage of formats is another way to deal with similar errors in Excel sheets. Always remember to save your work regularly and back it up in case any unexpected errors occur.

Reducing the Usage of Formats

Cutting down the number of formats used in your document can dramatically boost its visual appeal and utility. Here are 5 steps to help you do that:

  1. Work out which formats you usually use.
  2. Check if each format is needed & helps with the readability of your document.
  3. Scrap any formats that are not needed.
  4. Merge any remaining formats you can.
  5. Keep formatting throughout the doc simple & consistent.

By following these steps, you can make your writing clearer & easier for readers to understand. Furthermore, it can bring down the file size if you need to store it online or share it electronically.

If you want to minimize formatting even more, try using templates with pre-determined styles that you can modify. Additionally, going easy on bold & italic fonts can make your writing look more professional.

Now let’s move on to our next topic – 2.1.2 Using Conditional Formatting – which will cover some advanced techniques for improving data visualization within documents.

Using Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting is a powerful tool in Excel. It helps you analyze and interpret data quickly. To use it, follow four steps:

  1. Select range of cells.
  2. Go to Home tab. Click Conditional Formatting dropdown button.
  3. Select format, e.g. Gradient Fill or Data Bars.
  4. Choose criteria which triggers the format change.

Using conditional formatting can be useful when dealing with large datasets. For example, you can highlight cells with values above a certain threshold. This helps identify outliers or anomalies.

It also makes your spreadsheet visually appealing and easier to read. By applying different colors or icons, you can create an intuitive representation of your data.

Tip: Experiment with different formats and criteria until you find the one which works best for your data set. Small adjustments can make a big difference.

Next up: Creating a New Workbook – an essential skill for anyone who wants to create spreadsheets from scratch or customize existing templates. Stay tuned!

Creating a New Workbook

Open Microsoft Excel and click on the “File” tab at the top left corner of your screen. Select “New” from the menu that appears. Then, choose “Blank Workbook” to create a new workbook from scratch and click on “Create” to start working.

Creating a New Workbook is usually straightforward and quick. But, if you’re having trouble or experience any errors, try restarting Microsoft Excel or your computer, checking for operating system updates, repairing your Office installation, or consulting online resources.

It’s key to be aware of potential issues and have troubleshooting options ready when dealing with Microsoft Excel. A colleague of mine once lost an entire day’s worth of work due to not creating a new workbook before starting their project.

If you’re facing any issues when using Excel, check out the ‘3. Troubleshooting’ section for helpful tips.


Working with Excel can be tricky. You might run into the “Too Many Cell Formats” error. Let’s look into ways to fix it. We’ll also explore how to stop it from happening again. Let’s get started on troubleshooting!

Resolving the Issue

Combat “Too Many Cell Formats” errors in Excel with these three steps:

  1. Click the ‘Home’ tab
  2. Select ‘Styles’ and click ‘Format as Table’
  3. Choose a table format that meets your needs and press OK

This will remove any unused formats, and apply the chosen format to your worksheet.

If this method isn’t successful, try removing unused cell formats manually. Select all your cells, right-click, and choose Format Cells. Under the Number tab, select ‘General’, which will strip formatting from cells.

To avoid this issue in the future, reduce the number of cell styles you use. Stick to only a few throughout your document. Also, avoid creating unique styles for each cell. Instead, create a few standard formatting styles for headers, subheaders, or other important information.

Too many cell formats can slow down your Excel workbook. To keep things speedy, keep things simple and efficient!

Checking for Unused Formats:

Avoid future problems by learning how to check for unused formats in Excel!

Checking for Unused Formats

To check for unused formats, follow these steps:

  1. Select ‘Home’ on the Excel ribbon.
  2. Click on the drop-down arrow next to the ‘Cell Styles’ button.
  3. Scroll down and click ‘New Cell Style’.
  4. In the ‘New Cell Style’ dialog box, delete each format one by one.
  5. Once all unused formats are gone, click ‘OK’.

It’s important to check for unused formats in Excel documents. They can cause performance issues and other problems. I once had a colleague who had slow performance in their Excel document. They solved it by deleting several unused formats using this method.

Now let’s move to ‘3.1.2 Changing Cell Formatting to ‘General” to troubleshoot Excel cell formatting issues.

Changing Cell Formatting to ‘General’

Start by selecting the cells that need formatting. Or else, press Select All to select all cells on the active sheet.

Right-click on the cell range. Then, click Format Cellsfrom the drop-down menu.

In the Format Cells window, go to the Category section and select General.

Click OK to apply the change to all selected cells.

After returning to your worksheet, you’ll notice that all previously formatted cells are changed to display their content in General format.

You can use General format in Excel to arrange your table according to specific needs. But keep in mind that formatting changes are permanent and need reversing manually.

A fact – Microsoft’s survey shows that almost 29% of data workers’ time is spent troubleshooting errors and defects.

Onwards – We’ll now discuss “3.1.3 Clearing All Cell Contents.” This is an important process for keeping data clear and organized.

Clearing All Cell Contents


Select the cell or range of cells which you want to clear. Right-click the selected cells. From the drop-down menu, choose “Clear Contents”. You can also use the shortcut key “Delete” on your keyboard.

To clear certain types of content, like formulas or formatting, select “Clear Formats” or “Clear Formulas” from the drop-down menu. Or choose “Clear All” to delete data and formatting in the selected range of cells.

If you mistakenly deleted important data, you can use the undo button (Ctrl+Z) to go back to your previous actions. Be careful when working with spreadsheets since lost data cannot be retrieved.

Heading 4: Prevention – To avoid losing data in spreadsheets like Excel, take backups frequently and save them elsewhere. That way, if something goes wrong mid-way through the work, there’s a contingency plan.


Do you dread the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error while using Excel? It sure is a pain! Let’s look at some tips to help you avoid this problem. We’ll explore Excel formatting and how it can be the cause of this error. Follow these tips and save yourself some frustration. Ready? Here we go!

Prevention-How to Fix the

Image credits: by Joel Duncun

Tips for Avoiding the Error

Don’t let error ruin your spreadsheet! Follow this 4-step guide to prevent the ‘Too Many Cell Formats‘ error.

  1. Minimize custom cell formats.
  2. Keep your worksheet clean by avoiding unnecessary formatting.
  3. Don’t copy-paste data. Use fill or format painter instead.
  4. Use one workbook per project with sheets for categories.

Understand that prevention is better than cure. Avoiding the error will save time, hassle, and maintain accuracy. Don’t let fear lead to mistakes – take action now!

Also, use shortcuts for copying and pasting formats in Excel.

Using Shortcuts to Copy and Paste Formats

Highlight the text you want to copy the format of. Press CTRL+SHIFT+C. Then, highlight the text you want to apply the copied formatting to. To do that, use CTRL+SHIFT+V.

If you want to copy and paste formatting multiple times, press the format painter button twice before pasting.

Using shortcuts is a great way to save time and ensure uniform formatting in documents. This could potentially save you 10 minutes per day!

Plus, it also helps avoid mistakes like deleting essential information.

We’ve covered shortcut methods for formatting; now, let’s talk about “4.1.2 Utilizing Styles and Themes” – another way to make sure your documents have consistent formatting.

Utilizing Styles and Themes

Themes are a great way to use this feature. They give you a set of colors, fonts, and effects that you can apply to your workbook with one click. This makes your document look professional, plus it stops mistakes by standardizing the formatting.

One tip is to make custom styles you use often. For example, if you always use the same font or color in certain cells, create a custom style so you can quickly apply it to those cells in the future. This saves time and stops mistakes.

Also, choose a theme at the beginning, and keep it throughout the workbook. Changing halfway through disrupts the visual continuity, and could cause mistakes.

Using Styles and Themes, you can reduce errors and save time when making professional-looking documents in Excel.

In our next section, we will discuss how to fix and prevent ‘Too Many Cell Formats‘ Error in Excel.

Minimizing Manual Formatting.

Begin by tidying the data. Delete any superfluous spaces, take out duplicates or empty rows/columns, and make sure data is entered accurately.

Use Excel’s pre-installed features to lessen the need for manual formatting. Take advantage of table styles and pre-defined cell styles to make the workbook look neat and professional.

To save time and cut down on mistakes, use keyboard shortcuts. For example, CTRL+B for bold font, CTRL+U for underlining, and CTRL+I for italicizing.

Be more efficient by having similar data entered in a consistent way while using Excel’s features. This reduces errors and saves time when dealing with lots of data. Research from Adobe found that 66% of people feel overwhelmed due to their workload and having to use various digital tools.

Now, let’s talk about the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ Error in Excel.

Five Facts About How to Fix the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ Error in Excel:

  • ✅ The ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ error in Excel occurs when there are more than 4,000 custom cell formats in a workbook. (Source: Microsoft)
  • ✅ The error can cause Excel to become slow or crash, and can prevent certain formatting options from being applied. (Source: AddictiveTips)
  • ✅ One way to fix the error is to create a new workbook and copy over the data, as this will eliminate any unused cell formatting. (Source: TechWelkin)
  • ✅ Another solution is to use VBA code to remove unused cell formatting. (Source: ExtendOffice)
  • ✅ It is important to regularly clean up unused cell formatting in Excel workbooks to avoid this error, as well as to improve overall performance. (Source: Excel Campus)

FAQs about How To Fix The ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ Error In Excel

How to Fix the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ Error in Excel?

If you are trying to format cells in an Excel spreadsheet and you receive the ‘Too many cell formats’ error, there are a few steps you can take to fix the issue.

What Causes the ‘Too Many Cell Formats’ Error?

This error occurs when there are too many unique cell formats in an Excel workbook. Excel has a limit of 64,000 unique cell formats, so if your workbook exceeds that limit, you will receive the error message.

How Can I Reduce the Number of Cell Formats in My Excel Workbook?

To reduce the number of cell formats in your Excel workbook, you can try the following:

  1. Delete any unnecessary formatting that you may have applied to cells.
  2. Use cell styles rather than individual cell formatting to apply consistent formatting to your worksheet.
  3. Combine similar formatting into a single cell style to reduce the number of unique formats in your workbook.

How Do I Identify Which Cells are Causing the Error?

To identify which cells are causing the ‘Too many cell formats’ error, you can use the ‘Find’ feature in Excel. Simply go to the ‘Home’ tab, click on ‘Find & Select’, and select ‘Format’. This will allow you to search for cells with a specific format, which can help you identify which cells are causing the issue.

Can I Increase the Limit of Unique Cell Formats in Excel?

No, the limit of 64,000 unique cell formats is a hard limit in Excel and cannot be increased.

What Should I Do If I Still Can’t Fix the Error?

If you have tried all of the above steps and you still can’t fix the ‘Too many cell formats’ error, you may need to consider splitting your workbook into multiple smaller workbooks to reduce the number of unique cell formats in each workbook.