How to Fix the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' Error in Excel

This article provides practical solutions to resolve the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error in Excel, along with tips and recommendations for efficient spreadsheet management.

Nene Aly

By Nene Aly / Updated on March 5, 2024

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The 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error is a common issue that many Excel users encounter when working with large or complex spreadsheets. This error typically occurs when there are too many formatting styles applied to cells, which can lead to performance issues and make it difficult to manage the spreadsheet effectively.

The Problem: 'Too Many Different Cell Formats'

The 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error is a problem that occurs in Excel when the number of formatting styles applied to cells exceeds the maximum allowed limit. This issue can result in slower performance, increased file size, and difficulties in formatting cells consistently.

Possible Causes of the Error

There are several possible causes for the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error in Excel:

  1. The use of excessive formatting styles in the spreadsheet.
  2. Importing data from external sources with incompatible formatting.
  3. Applying formatting repeatedly or inconsistently throughout the spreadsheet.

Solution 1: Clear Formatting

To resolve the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error, follow these steps:

  1. Select the entire worksheet by clicking the square in the upper-left corner, or press Ctrl+A.
  2. Go to the 'Home' tab and click on the 'Clear' dropdown in the 'Editing' group.
  3. Select 'Clear Formats' to remove all formatting from the selected cells.
  4. Save the spreadsheet and check if the error persists.

Solution 2: Unify Formatting

If the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error still occurs, you can try unifying the formatting in your spreadsheet by following these steps:

  1. Select a cell with the desired formatting.
  2. Press Shift+Ctrl+Right Arrow to select all cells to the right, or Shift+Ctrl+Down Arrow to select all cells below.
  3. Go to the 'Home' tab and choose the desired formatting options in the 'Font', 'Alignment', and 'Border' groups.
  4. Right-click on the selected cells and choose 'Format Cells' from the context menu.
  5. In the 'Format Cells' dialog box, click on the 'OK' button to apply the formatting to the selected cells.

Solution 3: Use Conditional Formatting Sparingly

Conditional formatting can contribute to an excessive number of cell formats in a spreadsheet. Consider using conditional formatting sparingly and only where necessary. Follow these steps to manage conditional formatting:

  1. Select the cells with conditional formatting.
  2. Go to the 'Home' tab and click on the 'Conditional Formatting' dropdown in the 'Styles' group.
  3. Choose 'Clear Rules' and select the desired option to remove conditional formatting from the selected cells.
  4. Reapply conditional formatting only where needed.

Recommended Software: Excel Format Cleaner

Excel Format Cleaner is a powerful tool for fixing formatting issues in Excel spreadsheets. It allows you to remove excessive cell formats and unify formatting with just a few clicks. Additionally, it provides a user-friendly interface and supports multiple file formats, making it a convenient solution for Excel users.

Pros of Excel Format Cleaner:

  • Effortlessly cleans up excessive cell formats and reduces file size
  • User-friendly interface for easy navigation and usage
  • Supports various file formats for compatibility

Cons of Excel Format Cleaner:

  • Requires a paid subscription for full access to all features
  • May not handle extremely complex formatting issues

To use Excel Format Cleaner:

  1. Download and install Excel Format Cleaner from the official website.
  2. Open the program and select the target Excel spreadsheet.
  3. Choose the desired cleaning options, such as removing excessive cell formats or unifying formatting.
  4. Click on the 'Clean' button to apply the chosen actions to the spreadsheet.
  5. Save the cleaned spreadsheet and verify if the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error is resolved.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the maximum number of cell formats allowed in an Excel spreadsheet?

A: Excel allows a maximum of 4,000 different cell formats in a workbook.

Q: How can I identify cells with formatting in Excel?

A: You can identify cells with formatting by selecting the cells and checking the 'Format' dropdown in the 'Home' tab. If the dropdown displays multiple formatting options, the cells have different formats.

Q: Can I remove specific cell formats instead of clearing all formatting in Excel?

A: Yes, you can remove specific cell formats by selecting the cells, going to the 'Format' dropdown in the 'Home' tab, and selecting 'Clear' followed by the desired formatting option.

Q: How can I prevent the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error from occurring again in the future?

A: To prevent this error, it is recommended to use formatting consistently throughout the spreadsheet, avoid excessive formatting styles, and ensure compatibility when importing data with formatting.

Q: Does Excel provide any built-in tools for managing cell formatting?

A: Yes, Excel offers various built-in tools for managing cell formatting, such as the 'Clear Formats' option, conditional formatting, and the 'Format Cells' dialog box.

Q: Can the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error affect the performance of my Excel spreadsheet?

A: Yes, an excessive number of cell formats can significantly impact the performance of an Excel spreadsheet, leading to slower calculations and increased file size.

Technical Terms Explained

1. Cell Format

A cell format refers to the visual appearance of a cell in an Excel spreadsheet, including attributes like font, color, alignment, and borders.

2. Workbook

A workbook in Excel is the main file that contains worksheets, charts, and other elements. It serves as the primary container for managing and organizing data.

3. Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting is a feature in Excel that enables users to highlight or format cells based on specific criteria or conditions. It allows for visual data analysis and customization.

Tips for Effective Spreadsheet Management

  • Regularly review and clean up formatting in your spreadsheets to avoid unnecessary complexity.
  • Use cell styles and templates to ensure consistent formatting throughout your spreadsheet.
  • Avoid excessive conditional formatting, as it can contribute to the 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error.


The 'Too Many Different Cell Formats' error in Excel can be frustrating, but with the right solutions and proactive spreadsheet management, it can be easily resolved. By following the suggested steps and implementing the recommended software, you can improve the performance and efficiency of your Excel spreadsheets while maintaining consistent and manageable formatting.

Nene Aly
Nene Aly · Editor