Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Creating Default Formatting for Workbooks and Worksheets.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 30, 2016)
Mark notes that Excel starts with a workbook that is formatted with a column width of 8.43 and general number formatting. He would like it to start with a workbook that has a column width of 25 for the first column, 12 for the remaining columns, and number format with 2 decimals and a comma between thousands. He would also like any sheets added to the workbook to have the same formatting. He wonders how to get Excel to recognize these default workbooks and worksheets.
The solution is to create two special templates in Excel. One template controls the default appearance for workbooks and the other controls the default appearance for worksheets. Basically all you need to do is open a brand new, blank workbook. Format it as you would like your default workbook to appear. (You can even create a different appearance for each worksheet in the workbook, if desired.) When it appears exactly as you want, save it as a template. This means that in the Save As dialog box you should change the Save As Type setting to a template. Also, you need to save the template in this folder:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE14\XLSTART
The path can vary, depending on which version of Office you are using. The above example is for Office 2010; just change the OFFICE14 text to OFFICE12 if you are using Office 2007, or in Office 2016 you'll need to go into the root folder and find Office16. If you are in doubt of where the folder is located on your system, use Windows' searching capabilities to locate the folder.
The actual name you give to your template is important—it needs to be book.xltx or, if your template includes macros, book.xltm. As far as Excel is concerned, a template named book.xltx or book.xltm, stored in the XLSTART folder, is to be used as the default for all new workbooks—just want you want.
Next, delete all the worksheets in the workbook except one. This one will be used as the default "blank worksheet" when adding worksheets (by pressing Ctrl+N) into an open workbook. Format it the way you want, and then press F12 to display the Save As dialog box. Again, save it as a template, but this time give it the name sheet.xltx. Store it in the same XLSTART folder you used for the previous template.
Now, restart Excel and you should be all set. In fact, once you restart, you should notice that the blank workbook opened by default should match what you saved in the book.xltx template.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12057) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Creating Default Formatting for Workbooks and Worksheets.
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