How to Format Excel Spreadsheets Using Cell Styles

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Formatting your Excel spreadsheets gives them a more polished look, and can also make it easier to read and interpret the data, and thus better suited for meetings and presentations. Excel has a collection of pre-set formatting styles to add color to your worksheet that can take it to the next level.

These instructions apply to Excel for Office 365 and Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, and 2010.

What Is a Cell Style?

A cell style in Excel is a combination of formatting options, including font sizes and color, number formats, cell borders, and shading that you can name and save as part of the worksheet.

Apply a Cell Style

Excel has many built-in cell styles that you can apply as is to a worksheet or modify as desired. These built-in styles can also serve as the basis for custom cell styles you can save and share between workbooks.

  1. Select the range of cells you want to format.

    Selected cells in Excel worksheet
  2. On the Home tab of the ribbon, select the Cell Styles button in the Styles section, to open the gallery of available styles.

    Cell Styles in Excel
  3. Select the desired cell style to apply it.

    Selected cell style

Customize Cell Styles

One advantage of using styles is that if you modify any cell style after applying it in a worksheet, all cells using that style automatically update to reflect the changes.

Further, you can incorporate Excel's lock cells feature into cell styles to prevent unauthorized changes to specific cells, worksheets, or workbooks.

You can also customize cell styles either from scratch or using a built-in style as a starting point.

  1. Select a worksheet cell.

  2. Apply all desired formatting options to this cell.

  3. On the Home tab of the ribbon, select the Cell Styles button in the Styles section, to open the gallery of available styles.

    Cell Styles in Excel
  4. Select New cell styles at the bottom of the gallery.

    New Cell Style option in Cell Style gallery
  5. Type a name for the new style in the Style name box.

    Style Name box in New Cell Style dialog
  6. Select the Format button in the Style dialog box to open the Format Cells dialog box.

    Screenshot of Format button
  7. Select a tab in the dialog box to view the available options.

    Format Cells dialog box in Excel
  8. Apply all desired changes.

  9. Select OK to return to the Style dialog box.

  10. Underneath the name is a list of the formatting options that you selected. Clear the checkboxes for any unwanted formatting.

  11. Select OK to close the dialog box and return to the worksheet.

The new style's name will now appear at the top of the Cell Styles Gallery under the Custom heading. To apply your style to cells in a worksheet, follow the steps above for using a built-in style.

To edit cell formatting, launch the Cell Styles Gallery and right-click on a cell style and choose Modify > Format. The right-click menu also includes a Duplicate option.

Copy a Cell Style to Another Workbook

When you create a custom cell style in a workbook, it's not available across Excel. You can easily copy custom styles to other workbooks, though.

  1. Open the first workbook containing the custom style you want to copy.

  2. Open the second workbook.

  3. In the second workbook, select Cell Styles on the ribbon to open the Cell Styles gallery.

    Cell Styles in Excel
  4. Select Merge Styles at the bottom of the gallery to open the Merge Styles dialog box.

    Merge Styles button in Excel Cell Styles
  5. Select the name of the first workbook and choose OK to close the dialog box.

    Merge Styles dialog box

An alert box will pop up asking if you want to merge styles with the same name. Unless you have custom styles with the same name but different formatting options in both workbooks, click the Yes button to complete the transfer into the destination workbook.

Remove Cell Style Formatting

Finally, you can remove any formatting you apply to a cell without deleting the data or the saved cell style. You can also delete a cell style if you no longer want to use it.

  1. Select the cells that are using the cell style that you want to remove.

  2. On the Home tab of the ribbon, select the Cell Styles button in the Styles section, to open the gallery of available styles.

    Cell Styles in Excel
  3. In the Good, Bad, and Neutral section near the top of the gallery, select Normal to remove all applied formatting.

    Normal button in Good, Bad and Neutral section of Cell Styles in Excel

The above steps can also be used to remove formatting that has been applied manually to worksheet cells.

Delete a Style

You can delete any built-in and custom cell styles from the Cell Styles gallery except for Normal, which is the default. When you delete a style, any cell that was using it will lose all associated formatting.

  1. On the Home tab of the ribbon, select the Cell Styles button in the Styles section, to open the gallery of available styles.

    Cell Styles in Excel
  2. Right-click on a cell style to open the context menu and choose Delete. The cell style is immediately removed from the gallery.

    Screenshot of Delete in Cell Styles right-click menu