My employer has provided me with Office 2011 on my MBP workstation, running Mountain Lion. They use networked Excel docs almost exclusively, so I need to adapt to it. There's a handy toolbar item for working with default cell formats:

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I've got three or four formats I use to code item statuses in the project sheets (to do, problem, incomplete, complete), and I can figure out how to modify these default styles to my preference ... and delete the couple dozen I will never use. The problem is, whenever I open a new doc, all my custom styles are reset and the extraneous defaults I deleted have returned.

Is there a way to permanently change these default styles? I want the changes to persist both for new docs I create, and when opening docs someone else has created. Google has proved fruitless for me, but my search-fu is not the strongest.

PS (Though I would prefer to, please no comments about switching to Numbers. Already had that conversation with the boss.)

2 Answers 2


For existing (or the one you get from others) Excel documents where you have a lots of data in it, try using the down arrow (under the format window).

It will open new window where you can choose a new format there.

Next right click on the cells you want to modify, or just create new cells.

Another way for existing documents you get from others do following:
Open and than click on the "Import Cell styles" than select your format file (both files have to be open at same time).

For new documents use your saved template.

PS. One day you will succeed giving your template to your coworkers and teaching them to use it, so you do not have to reformat theirs.

Here is my screen capture showing the original and SAMPLE after modifying. Hope this helped, and you can impress your boss with your excel skills.




Your best bet would be to create an Excel Template that has all of the formatting options that you like, then just create new workbooks utilizing that template.

Open a new workbook, or one that has all of the formatting you prefer (remove all data from it though so its clean every time you open it), set all your formats and general preferences, then Save As and save it as an Excel Template.

  • So the styles are defined at the document level? There's no way to automatically bring my formats into a pre-existing doc?
    – CodeMoose
    Mar 12, 2013 at 19:36
  • 1
    @CodeMoose Using a template, no. However, you may be able to achieve the formatting you desire to the existing data using macros but I think that may be the only way.
    – BoZiffer
    Mar 12, 2013 at 20:04
  • The question was "Is there a way to permanently change these default styles? I want the changes to persist both for new docs I create, and when opening docs someone else has created." <LB> This answer does not solve the problem of modifying the existing documents with lots of data in it. While it is correct to use the template, that only applies to new documents. Also, it was not explained how to create new template with modified cell format.
    – user44516
    Mar 18, 2013 at 21:44

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