Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Setting a Default File Format.

Setting a Default File Format

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 22, 2018)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Normally, Excel saves your worksheets in the workbook format that is appropriate for the version of the software you are using. This means that your worksheets are stored in a peculiar way that is understood by your version of Excel, but may not be understood by other programs—including earlier versions of Excel.

If you do a lot of work with people who use other versions of Excel or who use a different spreadsheet program, you may want to specify a different default file format for your files. Excel makes this easy; just follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Transition tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Transition tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Use the Save Excel Files As drop-down list to select a default file format.
  5. Click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2968) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Setting a Default File Format.

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. ...

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