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: Problems with Default Workbook and Worksheet Templates.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 23, 2018)
David decided that he wanted to create default templates for Excel. He created both book.xltx and sheet.xltx files and stored both templates in the XLSTART folder. He then restarted Excel, whereupon he was greeted with the message "The file is not in a recognizable format." If he clicks OK, the workbook opens, appearing as garbage. After a fraction of a second, another window opens, displaying a blank worksheet with the expected formatting on the top row and left column. David knows the template is not really corrupted; he can copy it to a different folder and open it just fine in Excel. The error only happens when he puts the templates in the XLSTART folder.
Checking to make sure that the template is not corrupted is a good first step. It is also good that you are trying to store these templates in XLSTART—this is where Excel expects your default templates to be. (This has been discussed in other issues of ExcelTips.) You should also try the following ideas:
If the problem still exists, then you may really have a corrupted file after all. There could be something out of kilter in the file that allows it to be loaded directly into Excel, but doesn't allow it to be loaded as a default template. You can try to fix any minor corruption by saving the file in HTML format, restarting Excel, loading the HTML file, and resaving it as a template.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12713) 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: Problems with Default Workbook and Worksheet Templates.
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