Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Setting a Default File Format.

Setting a Default File Format

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 27, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Normally, Excel saves your worksheets in the workbook format that is appropriate for the version of the software you are using. This means that your worksheets are stored in a peculiar way that is understood by your version of Excel but may not be understood by other programs—including earlier versions of Excel.

If you do a lot of work with people who use other versions of Excel or who use a different spreadsheet program, you may want to specify a different default file format for your files. Excel makes this easy; just follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 and later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click the Save option at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Save option of the Excel Options dialog box.

  4. Use the Save Files In This Format drop-down list to select a default file format.
  5. Click OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10480) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Setting a Default File Format.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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