Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 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.

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:

  • Make sure that the template is really a template. In other words, use the Format setting in the Save As dialog box to specify you are saving an Excel template. (Don't just change the filename extension on the workbook file and expect it to be recognized as a template by Excel.)
  • Check to see if there are any other files in the XLSTART folder or in the default startup folder. (You need to check both places.) If there are other files, you might want to move them to make sure that they aren't causing problems with loading the default templates.

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 Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Problems with Default Workbook and Worksheet Templates.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Dragging and Dropping Pictures in a Document

Do you like to add pictures to your document just by dragging and dropping? What are you to do if it appears the ...

Discover More

Formatting Page Numbers

Need to format the page numbers you added to your document? Word makes it easy, using the same techniques you use to ...

Discover More

Deleting Multiple Building Blocks

Building Blocks can be a powerful timesaver when developing your documents. Being able to delete multiple Building Blocks ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Who Has the Workbook Open?

When you are working with workbooks to which multiple people have access, it can be helpful to know who has a particular ...

Discover More

Changing Links

If your worksheet is linked to data in other worksheets, you may need to change the link from time to time. Here's how to ...

Discover More

Opening Two Workbooks with the Same Name

If you have two workbooks that each have the same name, opening them at the same time in Excel could cause some problems. ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three less than 6?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.