Too Many Different Cell Formats in Excel

When you use Excel 2003 you may encounter the “too many cell formats” error, just after you try to open a file.

This happens because Excel 2003 has a limit on the number of different file formats. It can display a maximum of 4000 combinations.

To say that two cells are the same formats, they need to have the same:

Take a look at the cells in the image below.

Each of these twelve cells has the same cell format.

And now another example.

The solution to the problem

There is a solution to this problem.

First, you need to download the OpenOffice application from

Next, install the application and open it.

Go to File >> Open.

Select the Excel file that returns a “Too many different cell formats” error. Save the file using a different name and the same extension.

Now, try to open the file with Excel 2003 and you shouldn’t get the error message.

Tomasz Decker is an Excel specialist, skilled in data analysis and financial modeling.