No More Custom Formats Can Be Added

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 3, 2017)

3

Some day, as you are working with a large workbook, you may be surprised by an error message that pops up. You may be trying to change the formatting of a cell, and Excel refuses to make the change and instead displays a message that says "No more custom number formats can be added." Why does Excel do this?

Every time you change the format of a cell to a "custom format" you are adding formats to Excel. According to Excel's specifications, the number of custom formats you can use is only limited by memory, but you must remember that limitation is theoretical—it is very possible that you will run out of space for custom formats long before you run out of memory.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to correct this problem. Once a custom format is created, Excel "remembers" it, and you cannot get rid of it easily. There are a few different things you can try, however.

  • Use File | Save As to save the workbook under a different name.
  • Save the worksheets as HTML files, and then load them from HTML back into Excel. (You may loose some formatting during the round trip, but it should help clear things up.)
  • Copy the contents of each worksheet to a new, blank workbook. Don't use Edit | Move or Copy Sheet, as this can also move or copy your custom formats. You should instead select all the cells in a worksheet, press Ctrl+C, go to the new worksheet, and press Ctrl+V.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2133) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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

Specifying a Paper Tray in a Macro

You may want to use a macro to process and then print your document. Part of that printing may involve specifying which of ...

Discover More

Changing How Arrows Look

If you use Excel's graphic capabilities to insert a line or an arrow into a worksheet, you can change how that arrow looks. ...

Discover More

Sheets for Months

One common type of workbook used in offices is one that contains a single worksheet for each month of the year. If you need ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Creating a Center Across Selection Button

The ability to center text across a range of cells has long been a staple of experienced Excel users. Here's how to create a ...

Discover More

Working with Fonts

Windows allows you to install different fonts that control how information is displayed and printed. This tip gives a ...

Discover More

Handling Negative Numbers in a Complex Custom Format

Custom formats are great for defining how a specific value in a cell should look. They aren't that great at doing complex ...

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 8Mpixels. 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 eight minus 3?

2012-06-25 12:23:01

V

I experienced this problem when I was faced with integrating different versions of Excel worksheets into a required 2003 worksheet format file. Excel would 'shutdown' when the 2003 excel formatting exceeded allowed number of format changes. There are software programs available (for a small charge) from other sources that will solve this. I purchased a program that stripped the excessive formatting changes from the 2003 excel file. It solved the problem.


2012-06-24 08:42:06

Ray

We like this site, but if you are more modern then you're looking at the wrong site. As it says above, "Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you!
If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface" ie ExcelTips (Ribbon)not EcelTips (Menu).


2012-06-23 20:43:04

D

This tip is for Excel 2003 and older (SEVEN YEARS AGO)! Why not get up to date with Excel 2010?


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon 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.