No More Custom Formats Can Be Added

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 19, 2017)

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

Placeholders for Stamps

Got a reply envelope you want to create? Why not put a placeholder for the stamp on the envelope? It's easy to do if you know ...

Discover More

Defeating Automatic Date Parsing

Excel is continually trying to figure out what type of data is being stored in a cell. If it can interpret a value as a date, ...

Discover More

Cell Address of a Maximum Value

Finding the maximum value in a range of cells is easy; finding the address of the cell containing that value is a different ...

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 (menu)

Moving Custom Formats to Number Formatting Categories

Moving your custom formats into a formatting category other than "custom" isn't something you can do in Excel. Here's ...

Discover More

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

Random Width and Height Changes

Have you ever been using a workbook, only to open it one day and find that Excel has changed the height of your rows or the ...

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 3 - 2?

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 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.