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Style reduction tool & Slow spreadsheets


The style reduction tool for Microsoft® Excel® analyzes and processes Excel spreadsheets in order to fix the hardcoded limit of formatting styles per spreadsheet, several thousands.

If you use formatting a lot, you have probably faced this blocking "too many different cell formats" error :

Excel can only store a limited number of formatting styles, hence the "too many different cell formats" error

The style reduction tool removes duplicates in existing formatting styles and can perform a drastic compression of similar formatting styles. By arbitrarily reducing the number of formatting styles you can freely work with those spreadsheets again.

NEW! Slow Excel spreadsheets are made a lot faster by automatically removing orphan objects that Excel creates when you are using spreadsheets. Those orphan objects grow arbitrarily and can make Excel very hard to operate over time : very slow to navigate cells and sheets ; very slow to open : very slow to save. This is a new algorithm in the style reduction tool and is a complement to the main style reduction process.


The user interface of the style reduction tool.


System requirements

  • The product works with Microsoft® Windows® 98 / NT4.0 / 2000 / XP / 2003 / Vista / 7.
  • The product works with Excel : 97 / 2000 / XP / 2003 / 2007 / 2010 / 2013.
  • Supports XLS, XLM, XLSX and XLSM files.


Download the product


 (2.0 MB)

Once downloaded, double-click on the .exe file to start it. There is no install process, it starts immediately from your hard drive location. It is possible that if you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7, starting the product may require right-clicking on the .exe file and choosing "Run as administrator".


Product tour


If you are using the trial version, the tool performs only a fraction of formatting style reduction. To get the full work done, a license must be purchased.

Step 1 : simply click the Analyze button, this analyzes the corresponding Excel file and produces a quick report. This listing tells, for each file, how many different formatting styles there are, and how many of these are duplicates.

Step 2, remove duplicates : if there are duplicate formatting styles, then you probably want to remove these. Just click on Remove Duplicates in order to process all of the files. Note that, if you are running a trial version, the removal is only partial. After the files are processed, you get a message telling how many of these were processed, and then you can individually view those processed files by either double-clicking on these on the list, or right-clicking and choose the appropriate option :

Processing results

  • Open processed workbook in Excel : this opens the file once it is processed. You can open the original and processed files in Excel and view them side by side, compare them (in Excel, click on Windows in the menu bar and select the Arrange... option.
  • Open original workbook in Excel : this reopens the original file.
  • Open working folder : this opens an explorer window where you can grab the file once it is processed. Note that the file is prefixed with Processed. If the original file is called myfile.xls, then the processed file is called Processed.myfile.xls


Purchase a license


The trial version only does a fraction of the work. You probably want to purchase a license in order to unlock the trial version into a full version.

Price$39 USD
Payment processing partnerPlimus (USA)
Payment methodCredit card, American express, P.O., ...
Payment currencyamong 30+
Purchasing orderorder page
Support address
Support forumforum


Just click the Purchase button on the top-right corner of the user interface, then proceed. Placing a purchase order will return a registration number by email. Just enter this registration number in the registration box and restart the product. If you are properly registered, the purchase button should go away and you should see registered license instead.

The license is an end-user license. It does not include right to redistribution, leasing, ownership transfer in any form or fashion.




  • July 25, 2006 - first release
  • ...
  • Jan 7, 2012 - update : drag and drop support. Users can now drag and drop their files onto the user interface.
  • Feb 6, 2012 - update : validation of XLS files against Microsoft Office BFF file validator.
  • Mar 9, 2012 - update : bug fix for internal mso drawing records. Could cause the tool to crash (error=0x00000000).
  • Jul 6, 2012 - update : bug fix for XLSX files used with non-US Windows operating systems. The bug could produce a corrupt file error in Excel.
  • Jul 17, 2012 - update : bug fix for XLSX files using volatile dependencies (external data sources).
  • Jul 22, 2012 - update : product installer removed to simplify use for first time users. Now users can simply download and double-click on the .exe in order to start using it.
  • Sep 20, 2012 - update : improved error message to let user know that the initial license activation fail may be related to his/her Windows firewall settings (blocking the tool named xlsstylereduction.exe).
  • Oct 5, 2012 - update : additional error messages for assisting the user, particularly when the working folder cannot be used to process files.
  • Oct 17, 2012 - update : friendlier error message when the user attempts to open a password-protected XLSX file. Before that, the tool would return error 80004005.
  • Nov 1, 2012 - update : 10% speed improvements for processing files.
  • Nov 5, 2012 - update : fix for processing files marked for working with Excel 2010.
  • April 5, 2013 - update : fix for processing XLS files with many vector shapes.
  • April 25, 2013 - update : fix for processing XLSX files containing hidden cells.
  • May 29, 2013 - update : fix another internal Excel regression introduced in Excel 2003 and never fixed by Microsoft, related to the scope of shared formulas.
  • July 8, 2013 - update : fix for specific Excel 2010 XLS files which may contain internal records spanning other records.
  • Sep 18, 2013 - update : fix for users on German version of Excel.
  • Jan 19, 2014 : we have released a major extension to the style reduction tool for fixing slow Excel spreadsheets.
  • April 6, 2014 - update : improved XLSX file format fidelity.


Error messages

80030003Current working folder cannot be used to write processed files. To change it, click on Options and change the corresponding option.
80030005Access denied. Most likely, current working folder cannot be used to write processed files. To change it, click on Options and change the corresponding option.
80030020The processed file is already opened in Excel. To avoid this error message, close it.
80072000The input file was last saved using a version of Excel prior Excel 97. To avoid this error message, open the file in a more recent version of Excel and save it.
80072001The input file is password protected. To avoid this error message, unprotect the file in Excel before you submit to the tool again.
80072002The input file is strict ISO29500. To avoid this error message, open it in Excel and save it as a regular XLSX file.
00000000The tool crashed. Send our technical support a copy of the input file by email.




The style reduction tool is a product from ARsT Design, an independent software developer. ARsT Design can be contacted at the above email address. ARsT Design other products include :

business intelligence tool


Office marketplace


This tool can be found in the Office marketplace here. If you think it solves your problem, please vote for it.

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