Use Excel Starter 2010 with earlier versions of Excel

When you start using Microsoft Excel Starter 2010, you may want to know how you can continue to work with workbooks that are created in an earlier version of Excel, how you can keep these workbooks accessible for users who do not have the current version of Excel installed, and how the differences between the versions affect the way that you work.

 Note   Backward compatibility with previous versions of Excel is different from compatibility between Excel Starter and the full version of Excel. For information about how Excel features are supported in Excel Starter, see Excel Starter feature support.

For backward compatibility with earlier versions of Excel, such as Excel 97-2003 or Excel 2007, you can use one of several ways to exchange workbooks between the different versions.

  • Work in Compatibility Mode    You can open a workbook that was created in an earlier version of Excel and work in Compatibility Mode so that the workbook remains in a file format that can easily be opened again in the earlier version. Compatibility mode is not available for Excel 2007 workbooks.
  • Download file converters    You can use file converters that you can download to open an Excel 2010 workbook in an earlier version of Excel.
  • Check a workbook for compatibility    If you want to work in the current file format but have to share a workbook with people who use earlier versions of Excel, you can check that the data is compatible with earlier versions of Excel. You can then make the necessary changes to avoid the loss of data or fidelity that might occur when that workbook is opened in an earlier version of Excel.
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Work in compatibility mode in Excel Starter 2010

In Excel Starter 2010, when you open a workbook that was created in Excel 97-2003, it is automatically opened in Compatibility Mode, and you see Compatibility Mode in square brackets next to the file name in the Excel title bar (title bar: A horizontal bar at the top of a window, dialog box, or toolbar that shows the name of the document, program, or toolbar.). Because Excel 2007 uses the same XML-based file format (.xlsx or .xlsm) as Excel 2010, an Excel 2007 workbook does not open in Compatibility Mode.

The file format of compatibility mode

In Compatibility Mode, any new or enhanced Excel 2010 features are not available when you work in a workbook, which prevents the loss of data and fidelity when the workbook is opened in an earlier version of Excel. Also, instead of using the current file format (.xlsx), the workbook is saved in Excel 97-2003 file format (.xls), a file format that can be opened in an earlier version of Excel.

Compatibility mode is automatic

Unlike Microsoft Word Starter 2010, where you can manually turn on Compatibility Mode, in Excel Starter you automatically work in Compatibility Mode when you open a workbook in the earlier file format. You do not have the option to include any new features when you work in a workbook in Compatibility Mode.

Exit Compatibility mode

If you no longer want to work in Compatibility Mode, you can convert the workbook to the current file format. For information, see Convert a workbook to Excel 2010 file format.

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Use file converters in earlier versions of Excel to open an Excel 2010 workbook

Specific updates and file converters are available on Microsoft Office.com that can help you open an Excel 2010 workbook in an earlier version of Excel (Excel 97-2003). If you have not yet installed the updates and converters, when you try to open an Excel 2010 workbook, you may be prompted to do this.

After installing the updates and converters, all Excel 2010 workbooks can be opened so that you can edit and save them without having to upgrade your version of Excel to Excel 2010. Excel 2010-specific features and formatting may not be displayed in the earlier version of Excel, but they are still available when the workbook is saved and then re-opened in Excel Starter 2010. For more information about features and formatting that are not displayed, see Excel 2007 and Excel 97-2003 features that are not supported in Excel Starter 2010.

Download and use file converters

  1. On the computer that has the earlier version of Excel installed, download the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack from the Microsoft Office Downloads Web site and install the updates and converters that you must have to open Excel 2010 workbooks.
  2. In the earlier version of Excel (Excel 97-2003), open the Excel 2010 workbook.

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Excel Starter 2010 features that are not supported in earlier versions of Excel

Not all Excel Starter 2010 features are supported in earlier versions of Excel. When you work in Compatibility Mode or want to save an Excel 2010 workbook to the file format of an earlier version of Excel, the Compatibility Checker can help you identify issues that may cause a significant loss of functionality or a minor loss of fidelity in the earlier version of Excel. To avoid the loss of data or functionality in an earlier version of Excel, you can then make the necessary changes to your Excel 2010 workbook.

When you save an Excel 2010 to an Excel 97-2003 file format, the Compatibility Checker runs automatically. However, when you save a workbook to an Excel 2007 file format for the first time, you must run the Compatibility Checker manually. You can then specify that the Compatibility Checker runs automatically every time that you save that workbook.

 Note   To run the Compatibility Checker manually, click the File tab, then in the Info section, in Prepare for Sharing, click Check for Issues, and then click Check Compatibility.

The Compatibility Checker lists the compatibility issues it finds, and provides a Find and Help button for most issues. You can then locate all occurrences of the issue, and get information about ways to resolve the issue. When run automatically, the Compatibility Checker also specifies the version of Excel in which a potential compatibility issue occurs.

Compatibility Checker with versions highlighted

Unsupported worksheet features

Unsupported worksheet features can cause the following compatibility issues, leading to a significant loss of functionality or a minor loss of fidelity.

Significant loss of functionality Possible solution
This workbook contains data in cells outside of the row and column limit of the selected file format. Data beyond 256 (IV) columns by 65,536 rows will not be saved. Formula references to data in this region will return a #REF! error.

In Excel Starter 2010, the worksheet size is 16,384 columns by 1,048,576 rows, but the worksheet size of earlier versions of Excel is only 256 columns by 65,536 rows. Data in cells outside of this column and row limit is lost in earlier versions of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the cells and ranges that fall outside the row and column limits, select them, and then place them inside the column and row limits or on another sheet by using the Cut and Paste commands.

This workbook contains dates in a calendar format that is not supported by the selected file format. These dates will be displayed as Gregorian dates.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can create custom international calendar formats, such as Hebrew Lunar, Japanese Lunar, Chinese Lunar, Saka, Zodiac Chinese, Zodiac Korean, Rokuyou Lunar, and Korean Lunar. However, these calendar formats are not supported in earlier versions of Excel.

To avoid loss of functionality, you may want to change the calendar format to a language (or locale) that is supported in earlier versions of Excel.

This workbook contains dates in a calendar format that is not supported by the selected file format. These dates must be edited by using the Gregorian calendar.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can apply a non-Western calendar type, such as Thai Buddhist or Arabic Hijri. In earlier versions of Excel, these calendar types can only be edited in Gregorian.

To avoid loss of functionality, you may want to change the calendar format to a language (or locale) that is supported in earlier versions of Excel.

This workbook contains more cells with data than are supported in earlier versions of Excel. Earlier versions of Excel will not be able to open this workbook.

In Excel Starter 2010, the total number of available cell blocks (CLBs) is limited by available memory. In earlier versions of Excel, however, the total number of available CLBs is limited to 64,000 CLBs in an instance of Excel.

A CLB includes 16 worksheet rows. If all rows in a worksheet contain data, you would have 4096 CLBs in that worksheet, and you could have only 16 of such worksheets in a single instance of Excel (regardless of how many workbooks you have open in Excel).

To make sure that the workbook does not exceed the 64,000 CLB limit and can be opened in earlier versions of Excel, you should work in Compatibility Mode in Excel Starter 2010 after you save the workbook to Excel 97-2003 file format. In Compatibility Mode, Excel keeps track of the CLBs in the active workbook.

Minor loss of fidelity Possible solution
Earlier versions of Excel do not support color formatting in header and footer text. The color formatting information will be displayed as plain text in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010 , you can apply color formatting to header and footer text. You cannot use color formatting in headers and footers in earlier versions of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Fix if you want to remove the color formatting.

This workbook contains worksheets that have even page or first page headers and footers. These page headers and footers cannot be displayed in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you have the option to display different header and footer text on even pages or on the first page. This option is not available in earlier versions of Excel. Even page or first page headers and footers cannot be displayed in the earlier versions, but they remain available for display when you open the workbook in Excel Starter 2010 again.

If you frequently have to open a workbook in an earlier Excel file format, you may want to stop using even or first page headers or footers for that workbook.

Some cells or styles in this workbook contain formatting that is not supported by the selected file format. These formats will be converted to the closest format available.

In Excel Starter 2010, different cell formatting or cell style options are available, such as special effects and shadows. These options are not available in earlier versions of Excel.

You can accept the closest available format that is applied when you continue saving the workbook, or you can change or remove a cell style that is not supported before you save the workbook in an earlier Excel file format.

This workbook contains more unique cell formats than are supported by the selected file format. Some cell formats will not be saved. In Excel Starter 2010, you can use 64,000 unique cell formats, but in earlier versions of Excel, you can only use up to 4,000 unique cell formats. Unique cell formats include any specific combination of formatting that is applied in a workbook.
This workbook contains more unique font formats than are supported in the selected file format. Some font formats will not be saved. In Excel Starter 2010, 1,024 global font types are available, and you can use up to 512 of them per workbook.

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Unsupported Excel table features

Unsupported Excel table features can cause the following compatibility issues, leading to a minor loss of fidelity.

Minor loss of fidelity Possible solution
The table contains a custom formula or text in the total row. In earlier versions of Excel, the data is displayed without a table.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can use custom formulas and text in the total row of a table, but this is not supported in earlier versions of Excel. Although the formulas will remain, the range will no longer be a table. If you want the table to remain in earlier versions of Excel, you may want to remove the custom text and use only the formulas that are available in the total row.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the table that contains a custom formula or text, and then remove that formula or text from the total row.

A table in this workbook does not display a header row. In earlier versions of Excel, the data is displayed without a table unless the Header Row check box is selected (Table Tools, Design tab, Table Style Options group).

In Excel Starter 2010, you have the option of displaying or hiding the header row of a table. In earlier versions of Excel, a table always has a header row.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the table that is displayed without a header row, and then display a header row.

A table style is applied to a table in this workbook. Table style formatting cannot be displayed in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can quickly format a table by applying a theme-based table style. In earlier versions of Excel, you can only format a table manually.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the table that has a table style applied, and then remove that table style.

A table in this workbook is connected to an external data source. Table functionality will be lost, but the data remains connected. If table rows are hidden by a filter, they remain hidden in an earlier version of Excel. Table functionality will be lost in the earlier version of Excel, but the data remains connected.

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Unsupported PivotTable features

Although PivotTables cannot be created in Excel Starter, you can use Excel Starter to open a workbook that was saved in Excel 2010, including new PivotTable features. Unsupported PivotTable features can cause the following compatibility issues, leading to a significant loss of functionality or a minor loss of fidelity.

Significant loss of functionality Possible solution
A PivotTable in this workbook exceeds former limits and will be lost if it is saved to earlier file formats. Only PivotTables that are created in Compatibility Mode will work in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, a PivotTable report supports 1,048,576 unique items per field, but in earlier versions of Excel, only 32,500 items per field are supported.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the PivotTable that exceeds the former limits. When you save the workbook to Excel 97-2003 format, you can then re-create this PivotTable in Compatibility Mode.

A PivotTable in this workbook contains conditional formatting rules that are applied to cells in collapsed rows or columns. To avoid losing these rules in earlier versions of Excel, expand those rows or columns. Conditional formatting rules in the PivotTable will be lost in the earlier version of Excel.
Minor loss of fidelity Possible solution
A PivotTable style is applied to a PivotTable in this workbook. PivotTable style formatting cannot be displayed in earlier versions of Excel. In earlier versions of Excel, you can only format a PivotTable manually. The PivotTable will not be displayed in the earlier version of Excel.
A PivotTable in this workbook is built in the current file format and will not work in earlier versions of Excel. Only PivotTables that are created in Compatibility Mode will work in earlier versions of Excel. A PivotTable that has been created in the Excel 2010 file format cannot be refreshed in earlier versions of Excel. .

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Unsupported sorting and filtering features

Unsupported sorting and filtering features can cause the following compatibility issues, leading to a minor loss of fidelity.

Minor loss of fidelity Possible solution
A worksheet in this workbook contains a sort state with more than three sort conditions. This information will be lost in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can apply sort states with up to sixty-four sort conditions to sort data by, but earlier versions of Excel support sort states with up to three conditions only. To avoid losing sort state information in earlier versions of Excel, you may want to change the sort state to one that uses no more than three conditions. In earlier versions of Excel, users can also sort the data manually.

However, all sort state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the sort state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been sorted with more than three conditions, and then change the sort state by using only three or less conditions.

A worksheet in this workbook contains a sort state that uses a sort condition with a custom list. This information will be lost in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can sort by a custom list. To get similar sorting results in earlier versions of Excel, you can group the data that you want to sort, and then sort the data manually.

However, all sort state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the sort state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been sorted by a custom list, and then change the sort state so that it no longer contains a custom list.

A worksheet in this workbook contains a sort state that uses a sort condition that specifies formatting information. This information will be lost in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can sort data by a specific format, such as cell color, font color, or icon sets. In earlier versions of Excel, you can only sort text.

However, all sort state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the sort state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been sorted by a specific format, and then change the sort state without specifying formatting information.

Some data in this workbook is filtered in a way that is not supported in earlier versions of Excel. Rows that are hidden by the filter will remain hidden, but the filter itself will not display correctly in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can apply filters that are not supported in earlier versions of Excel. To avoid losing filter functionality, you may want to clear the filter before you save the workbook in an earlier Excel file format. In earlier versions of Excel, users can then filter the data manually.

However, all filter state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the filter state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been filtered, and then you can clear the filter to unhide the rows that are hidden. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Sort & Filter, and then click Clear to clear the filter.

Some data in this workbook is filtered by a cell color. Rows that are hidden by the filter will remain hidden, but the filter itself will not display correctly in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can filter by a cell color, font color, or icon set, which is not supported in earlier versions of Excel. To avoid losing filter functionality, you may want to clear the filter before you save the workbook in an earlier Excel file format. In earlier versions of Excel, users can then filter the data manually.

However, all filter state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the filter state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been filtered, and then you can clear the filter to unhide the rows that are hidden. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Sort & Filter, and then click Clear to clear the filter.

Some data in this workbook is filtered by a font color. Rows that are hidden by the filter will remain hidden, but the filter itself will not display correctly in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can filter by a cell color, font color, or icon set, which is not supported in earlier versions of Excel. To avoid losing filter functionality, you may want to clear the filter before you save the workbook in an earlier Excel file format. In earlier versions of Excel, users can then filter the data manually.

However, all filter state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the filter state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been filtered, and then you can clear the filter to unhide the rows that are hidden. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Sort & Filter, and then click Clear to clear the filter.

Some data in this workbook is filtered by a cell icon. Rows that are hidden by the filter will remain hidden, but the filter itself will not display correctly in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010 , you can filter by a cell color, font color, or icon set, which is not supported in earlier versions of Excel. To avoid losing filter functionality, you may want to clear the filter before you save the workbook in an earlier Excel file format. In earlier versions of Excel, users can then filter the data manually.

However, all filter state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the filter state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been filtered, and then you can clear the filter to unhide the rows that are hidden. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Sort & Filter, and then click Clear to clear the filter.

Some data in this workbook is filtered by more than two criteria. Rows that are hidden by the filter will remain hidden, but the filter itself will not display correctly in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can filter data by more than two criteria. To avoid losing filter functionality, you may want to clear the filter before you save the workbook in an earlier Excel file format. In earlier versions of Excel, users can then filter the data manually.

However, all filter state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the filter state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been filtered, and then you can clear the filter to unhide the rows that are hidden. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Sort & Filter, and then click Clear to clear the filter.

Some data in this workbook is filtered by a grouped hierarchy of dates, resulting in more than two criteria. Rows that are hidden by the filter will remain hidden, but the filter itself will not display correctly in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can filter dates by a grouped hierarchy. Because this is not supported in earlier versions of Excel, you may want to ungroup the hierarchy of dates. To avoid losing filter functionality, you may want to clear the filter before you save the workbook in an earlier Excel file format.

However, all filter state information remains available in the workbook and is applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the filter state information is edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the data that has been filtered, and then you can clear the filter to unhide the rows that are hidden. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Sort & Filter, and then click Clear to clear the filter.

Date grouping can also be turned off on the Advanced tab in the Excel Options dialog box. (File tab, Options under Excel). Under Display options for this workbook, clear the Group dates in the AutoFilter menu check box.

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Unsupported formula features

Unsupported formula features can cause the following compatibility issues, leading to a significant loss of functionality or a minor loss of fidelity.

Significant loss of functionality Possible solution
Some worksheets contain more array formulas that refer to other worksheets than are supported by the selected file format. Some of these array formulas will not be saved and will be converted to #VALUE! errors.

In Excel Starter 2010, workbook arrays that refer to other worksheets are limited by available memory, but in earlier versions of Excel, worksheets can only contain up to 65,472 workbook arrays that refer to other worksheets. Workbook arrays beyond the maximum limit will be converted to and display #VALUE! errors.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that contain array formulas that have references to another worksheet, and then make the necessary changes to avoid #VALUE! errors.

Some formulas contain more values, references, and/or names than are supported by the selected file format. These formulas will not be saved and will be converted to #VALUE! Errors.

In Excel Starter 2010, the maximum length of formula contents is 8,192 characters and the maximum internal formula length is 16,384 bytes. In earlier versions for Excel, the maximum length of formula contents is only 1,024 characters, and the maximum internal formula length is only 1,800 bytes. When the combination of formula arguments (including values, references, and/or names) exceeds the maximum limits of earlier versions of Excel, the formulas will result in #VALUE! errors when you save the workbook to an earlier Excel file format.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the cells that contain formulas that exceed the maximum formula length limits of earlier versions of Excel, and then make the necessary changes to avoid #VALUE! errors.

Some formulas have more levels of nesting than are supported by the selected file format. Formulas with more than seven levels of nesting will not be saved and will be converted to #VALUE! errors.

In Excel Starter 2010, a formula can contain up to 64 levels of nesting, but in earlier versions of Excel, the maximum levels of nesting is only 7.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the cells that contain formulas with more than 7 levels of nesting, and then make the necessary changes to avoid #VALUE! errors.

For more information, see:

Some formulas contain functions that have more arguments than are supported by the selected file format. Formulas that have more than 30 arguments per function will not be saved and will be converted to #VALUE! errors.

In Excel Starter 2010, a formula can contain up to 255 arguments, but in earlier versions of Excel, the maximum limit of arguments in a formula is only 30.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the cells that contain formulas with more than 30 arguments, and then make the necessary changes to avoid #VALUE! errors.

Some formulas use more operands than are allowed by the selected file format. These formulas will not be saved and will be converted to #VALUE! errors.

In Excel Starter 2010, the maximum number of operands (operand: Items on either side of an operator in a formula. In Excel, operands can be values, cell references, names, labels, and functions.) that can be used in formulas is 1,024, but in earlier versions of Excel, the maximum limit of operands in formulas is only 40.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the cells that contain formulas with more than 40 operands, and then make the necessary changes to avoid #VALUE! errors.

One or more functions in this workbook are not available in earlier versions of Excel.  When recalculated in earlier versions, these functions will return a #NAME? error instead of their current results.

Excel Starter 2010 provides new functions that are not available in earlier versions of Excel.

When you save the workbook in Excel 2007 or Excel 97-2003 file format, and open it in the earlier version of Excel, any new function will be displayed with an error. In some cases, the prefix _xlfn is added to the formula, or example, =_xlfn.IFERROR (1,2). In other cases, the unsupported formula returns a #NAME? error.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the cells that contain functions that are new in Excel Starter 2010, and then make the necessary changes to avoid #NAME? errors.

Some formulas contain references to tables that are not supported in the selected file format. These references will be converted to cell references.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can use structured references to make it much easier and more intuitive to work with table data when you are using formulas that reference a table, either portions of a table or the entire table. This feature is not supported in earlier versions of Excel, and structured references will be converted to cell references.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the cells that contain formulas with structured references to tables, so that you can change them to the cell references that you want to use.

Some formulas contain references to tables in other workbooks that are not currently open in this instance of Excel. These references will be converted to #REF on save to Excel 97-2003 format because they cannot be converted to sheet references.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can use structured references to make it much easier and more intuitive to work with table data when you are using formulas that reference a table, either portions of a table or the entire table. This feature is not supported in earlier versions of Excel, and structured references will be converted to cell references. However, if the structured references point to tables in other workbooks that are not currently open, they will be converted to and displayed as #REF errors.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the cells that contain formulas with structured references to tables in other workbooks, so that you can change them to avoid #REF errors.

Minor loss of fidelity Possible solution
Some array formulas in this workbook refer to an entire column. In earlier versions of Excel, these formulas may be converted to #NUM! errors when they are recalculated.

Array formulas that refer to an entire column in Excel Starter 2010will be converted to and displayed as #NUM! errors when they are recalculated in earlier versions of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the array formulas that have references to a whole column so that you can make the necessary changes to avoid #NUM errors.

One or more defined names in this workbook contain formulas that use more than the 255 characters allowed in the selected file format. These formulas will be saved but will be truncated when edited in earlier versions of Excel.

When named ranges in formulas exceed the 255 character limit that is supported in earlier versions of Excel, the formula will work correctly, but it will be truncated in the Name dialog box and cannot be edited.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that contain named ranges in formulas, and then make the necessary changes so that users can edit the formulas in earlier versions of Excel.

Some formulas in this workbook are linked to other workbooks that are closed. When these formulas are recalculated in earlier versions of Excel without opening the linked workbooks, characters beyond the 255-character limit cannot be returned.

When formulas in a workbook are linked to other workbooks that are closed, they can only display up to 255 characters when they are recalculated in earlier versions of Excel. The formula results may be truncated.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that contain formulas that link to other workbooks that are closed so that you can verify the links and make the necessary changes to avoid truncated formula results in earlier versions of Excel.

A Data Validation formula has more than 255 characters.

When Data Validation formulas exceed the 255 character limit that is supported in earlier versions of Excel, the formula will work correctly, but it will be truncated and cannot be edited.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that contain Data Validation formulas, and then use fewer characters in the formula so that users can edit them in earlier versions of Excel.

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Unsupported conditional formatting features

Unsupported conditional formatting features can cause the following compatibility issues, leading to a significant loss of functionality.

Significant loss of functionality Possible solution
Some cells have more conditional formats than are supported by the selected file format. Only the first three conditions will be displayed in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, conditional formatting can contain up to sixty-four conditions, but in Excel 97-2003, only three conditions are supported.

In earlier versions of Excel, users will see the first three conditions only. However, all conditional formatting rules remain available in the workbook and are applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the rules are edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that have conditional formatting applied that use more than three conditions, and then make the necessary changes.

Some cells have overlapping conditional formatting ranges. Earlier versions of Excel will not evaluate all of the conditional formatting rules on the overlapping cells. The overlapping cells will show different conditional formatting.

In Excel Starter 2010, conditional formatting ranges in cell can overlap, but this is not supported in earlier versions of Excel and conditional formatting is not displayed as expected.

In earlier versions of Excel, users will see different conditional formatting than expected. However, all conditional formatting rules remain available in the workbook and are applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the rules are edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that have overlapping conditional formatting ranges, and then make the necessary changes.

One or more cells in this workbook contain a conditional formatting type that is not supported in earlier versions of Excel, such as data bars, color scales, or icon sets.

Excel Starter 2010 provides the following conditional formatting types that are not supported in Excel 97-2003:

  • Color scales
  • Data bars
  • Icon sets
  • Top or bottom ranked values
  • Above or below average values
  • Unique or duplicate values
  • Table column comparison to determine which cells to format

In earlier versions of Excel, users will not see conditional formatting, such as data bars, color scales, or icon sets. However, all conditional formatting rules remain available in the workbook and are applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the rules are edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that have conditional formatting types that are new in Excel Starter 2010, and then make the necessary changes.

Some cells contain conditional formatting with the 'Stop if True' option cleared. Earlier versions of Excel do not recognize this option and will stop after the first true condition.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can apply conditional formatting without stopping when the condition is has been met. This is not supported in earlier versions of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that contain conditional formatting with the 'Stop if True' option cleared, and then click Fix to resolve the compatibility issue.

In earlier versions of Excel, the conditional formatting results will not be the same as in Excel Starter 2010, because conditional formatting is no longer applied after the first condition is true. However, all conditional formatting rules remain available in the workbook and are applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the rules are edited in the earlier version of Excel.

One or more cells in this workbook contain a conditional formatting type on a nonadjacent range (such as top/bottom N, top/bottom N%, above/below average, or above/below standard deviation). This is not supported in earlier versions of Excel.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can apply conditional formatting to ranges that are not adjacent. This is not supported in earlier versions of Excel.

In earlier versions of Excel, users will not see conditional formatting in nonadjacent cells. However, all conditional formatting rules remain available in the workbook and are applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the rules are edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate cells that contain a conditional formatting type on a nonadjacent range, and then make the necessary changes.

Some PivotTables in this workbook contain conditional formatting that may not function correctly in earlier versions of Excel. The conditional formatting rules will not display the same results when you use these PivotTables in earlier versions of Excel.

Conditional formatting that is applied to Excel Starter 2010 PivotTables does not display the same results in PivotTables in earlier versions of Excel.

In earlier versions of Excel, the conditional formatting results in the PivotTables will not be the same as in Excel Starter 2010. However, all conditional formatting rules remain available in the workbook and are applied when the workbook is opened again in Excel Starter 2010, unless the rules are edited in the earlier version of Excel.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate PivotTable fields that contain conditional formatting rules, and then make the necessary changes.

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Unsupported graphics and objects

Unsupported graphics and objects, can cause the following compatibility issues, leading to a significant loss of functionality.

Significant loss of functionality Solution
Any effects on this object will be removed. Any text that overflows the boundaries of this graphic will appear clipped.

In Excel Starter 2010, you can use special effects, such as transparent shadows that are not supported in earlier versions of Excel. The special effects will be removed. Also, in Excel Starter 2010, when you insert text in a shape that is longer than the shape, the text spills outside of the boundaries of the shape. In earlier versions of Excel, this text will be truncated. To avoid truncated text, you can adjust the size of the shape for a better fit.

In the Compatibility Checker, click Find to locate the objects that have special effects applied so that you can remove the special effects as needed.

An embedded object in this worksheet is created in a newer version of Office. You cannot edit it in an earlier version of Excel. Embedded objects that are created in Excel Starter 2010 cannot be edited in earlier versions of Excel.

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Convert a workbook to Excel 2010 file format

When you open a workbook that was created in Excel 97-2003, and you no longer plan for anyone to work on this workbook in this earlier version, you can convert the workbook to the current Excel 2010 file format. When you convert to the current file format, you will have access to all new and enhanced features and functionality that Excel Starter 2010 offers, and the file size will be smaller.

To convert the workbook, you can:

  • Convert the workbook to the current file format    When you convert a workbook, it is replaced with a copy of the workbook in the current file format (.xlsx or .xlsm). After the workbook is converted, it is no longer available in the original file format.

 Note   In Excel Starter, you can save a workbook in the .xlm file format. Excel Starter store the macros, but does not load them.

To convert a workbook to the current file format, do the following:

  1. Open the workbook that you want to convert to the current file format.

 Note   The workbook is opened in Compatibility Mode.

  1. On the File tab, click Info, and then in the Compatibility Mode section, click the Convert button.
  2. If you receive a message about converting workbooks, click OK.

Tip    If you do not want to see this message about converting workbooks, select the Do not ask me again about converting workbooks.

  1. To work in the current file format, click Yes to close and reopen the workbook.
  • Save the workbook in the current file format    If you want to keep a copy of the workbook in the original file format, instead of converting the workbook, you can save a copy of the workbook in Excel 2010 file format (.xlsx).

To save a workbook in the current file format, do the following:

  1. On the File tab, click Save As.
  2. In the File name box, accept the suggested name or type a new name for the workbook.
  3. In the Save as type list, do one of the following:
    • To save the workbook in the current Excel Workbook file format, click .xlsx.
    • To save the file in the new binary file format, click .xlsb.
    • To save the workbook as a template, click .xltx.
    • If the workbook contains macros that you want to retain, click .xlsm.
    • If the workbook contains macros that you want to retain, and you want to save the workbook as a template, click .xltm.
  4. Click Save.

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Excel Starter 2010 and Excel 97-2003 features that are not supported in Excel Starter 2010

When you open a workbook in Excel Starter 2010 that was created in Excel 97-2003, some features of the earlier version of Excel are not supported in the workbook. Unsupported features have either been replaced by new features and functionality, or they have been removed because they were rarely used.

The following Excel 97-2003 features may function differently, have been removed, or are not available on the Ribbon.

Unsupported worksheet features

In Excel 97-2003 In Excel Starter 2010
You can use the AutoFormat feature to apply one of several autoformats (autoformat: A built-in collection of cell formats (such as font size, patterns, and alignment) that you can apply to a range of data. Excel determines the levels of summary and detail in the selected range and applies the formats accordingly.) to quickly format a range of data. Style galleries for tables, cells, and PivotTables provide a set of professional formats that can be applied quickly. You can choose from many predefined styles or create custom styles as needed. Styles replace AutoFormat as the simplest way to apply formatting to a range of cells.

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Unsupported table features

In Excel 97-2003 In Excel Starter 2010
You can create an Excel list (list: A series of rows that contains related data or a series of rows that you designate to function as a datasheet by using the Create List command.) to make it easier to manage and analyze groups of related data in a worksheet. Excel lists are now referred to as Excel tables to match this feature in other Microsoft Office programs, such as Word and PowerPoint.
You can use an insert row (a special row in Excel lists) to quickly add a new row of data at the end of a list. The insert row is no longer available. To add new rows to a table, press TAB, or type or paste the data that you want to include just below a table. You can also insert rows to include additional rows of data.
You can define names for lists.

When you create a table, a defined name for the same range is created at the same time. This name can be used to reference the table in formulas that use the new, structured referencing feature.

Names that are used for lists in earlier versions of Excel might not meet the requirements for range names in Excel Starter 2010, and therefore cannot be used for referencing the table in formulas that use the new structured referencing feature. To use table names in structured references, you must change the defined names.

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Unsupported formula features

In Excel 97-2003 In Excel Starter 2010
Full row and full column references that are used in a workbook can include data in cells that are located within the row and column limit of Excel 97-2003.

Full row and full column references automatically take into account the cells in the larger grid size of Excel Starter 2010. This means that the reference =A:A, which refers to cells A1:A65536 in earlier versions of Excel, refers to cells A1:A1048576 in the Excel 2010 file format.

Converting a workbook from an earlier version of Excel to the Excel 2010 file format can cause problems when full row or column references are used in that workbook, and data that was not meant to be included in the references has been entered in cells that are beyond the row and column limit of the earlier version of Excel.

Also, if specific functions that count the number of cells, rows, or columns in the reference were used (such as COUNTBLANK, ROWS, and COLUMN), and these functions referenced full rows or columns, the results that these functions return might be different than expected.

Specific names that use a combination of letters and numbers (such as USA1, FOO100, and MGR4) can be defined and used in formulas in Excel 97-2003 because they do not conflict with cell references.

With a new limit of 16,384 columns, the columns in Excel Starter 2010 extend to column XFD. This means that specific names (such as USA1, FOO100, and MGR4) that you could define in earlier versions of Excel will conflict with valid cell references in Excel Starter 2010. In addition, Excel Starter 2010 reserves names that start with XL for internal use.

When incompatible names are found when you convert a workbook from an earlier version of Excel to the Excel 2010 file format, you will be alerted about the conflict. To differentiate these names from cell references, an underscore (_) is automatically added as a prefix to the incompatible names.

External workbook references and functions that take string references (such as INDIRECT) are not updated — these references and functions must be changed manually.

Excel Starter 2010 also does not change defined names that are referenced through Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code. VBA code that references incompatible names will not work and must be updated.

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Unsupported charting features

In Excel 97-2003 In Excel Starter 2010
You can use the Chart Wizard to create a chart. You create a chart by clicking the chart type that you want on the Ribbon (Insert tab, Chart group). After creating the chart, you can use the Chart Tools to modify and format the chart.
You can change the size of multiple charts simultaneously. You must change the size of each chart individually.
When an existing chart sheet that contains data is selected, you can press F1 to create a chart sheet with the same data.

You can no longer duplicate chart sheets that contain data by pressing F11.

Pressing F11 when an existing chart sheet that contains data is selected creates a new chart sheet without data.

You can change the rotation of a 3-D chart by using the mouse.

You cannot use the mouse to change the rotation of a 3-D chart.

You can only change the rotation of a 3-D chart by specifying settings in the 3-D Rotation category in the Format Chart Area dialog box.

You can use pattern fills in chart elements.

Instead of pattern fills in chart elements, you can use picture and texture fills.

Charts with pattern fills that were created in an earlier version of Excel appear the same when they are opened in Excel Starter 2010, but you cannot use the pattern fills in other chart elements.

You can use the Size with window command to automatically resize charts that are located on chart sheets (chart sheet: A sheet in a workbook that contains only a chart. A chart sheet is beneficial when you want to view a chart or a PivotChart report separately from worksheet data or a PivotTable report.) when you change the size of the window. Instead of the Size with window command, you can use the Zoom to Selection command to achieve similar results.
A text box is automatically created when you click anywhere on a chart and start typing.

You cannot create a text box when you click anywhere on a chart and start typing.

To add a text box on a chart, use the Insert Text Box command.

By default, a copied chart is pasted as a picture in an Word document or PowerPoint presentation.

By default, a copied chart is pasted in a Word Starter 2010 document as an object that is linked to the Excel chart.

You can change the way that a copied chart is pasted by clicking the Paste Options button that is displayed when you paste the chart, and then pasting the chart as a picture or a whole workbook.

You can use a Word table as data for a new chart.

A table in Word Starter 2010 cannot be used as data for a new chart.

When you create a chart in Word Starter 2010, you get a worksheet with sample data instead of the data in the selected Word table. To plot the Word table data into the new chart, you have to copy that data to the worksheet, replacing the existing sample data.

You can specify printed chart size and scaling options on the Chart tab of the Page Setup dialog box. The Chart tab is available only when a chart is selected (File menu, Page Setup command). The printed chart size and scaling options are no longer available on the Chart tab of the Page Setup dialog box. The Chart tab is available only when a chart is selected (Page Layout tab, Page Setup group, Dialog Box Launcher Button image.
You can add data to a chart by selecting the data in the worksheet and dragging it onto the chart.

You can no longer drag data from a worksheet to a chart.

You can use other methods to add data to a chart.

You can drag data points (data points: Individual values plotted in a chart and represented by bars, columns, lines, pie or doughnut slices, dots, and various other shapes called data markers. Data markers of the same color constitute a data series.) on a chart and change their source values on the worksheet. Dragging data points to change the source values on the worksheet is no longer supported.
Shapes are drawn in a format that differs from the shape format that is used in Excel Starter 2010.

Shapes that are drawn in earlier versions of Excel cannot be grouped with shapes that are drawn in Excel Starter 2010, even when the shapes are upgraded to the current version. You cannot select shapes that are created in different versions of Excel at the same time. Shapes that are created in different versions of Excel are layered on top of current shapes.

Much like shapes, charts that are created in Excel Starter 2010 cannot be layered over dialog sheets that are created in earlier versions of Excel, and you cannot view charts that are layered underneath these dialog sheets.

To select the current charts, use the chart element selection box (Chart Tools, Format tab, Current Selection group).

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Unsupported file formats

Support for the following file formats has been removed from Office Starter 2010. You will not be able to open or save workbooks in these file formats.

File formats that are not supported in Excel 2010
WK1, ALL(1-2-3)
WK4 (1-2-3)
WJ1 (1-2-3 Japanese) (*.wj1)
WJ3 (1-2-3 Japanese) (*.wj3)
WKS (1-2-3)
WKS (Works Japanese) (*.wks)
WK3, FM3(1-2-3)
WK1, FMT(1-2-3)
WJ2 (1-2-3 Japanese) (*.wj2)
WJ3, FJ3 (1-2-3 Japanese) (*.wj3)
DBF 2 (dBASE II)
WQ1 (Quattro Pro/DOS)
Microsoft Excel Chart (*.xlc)

Support for the following file formats has changed.

File format In Excel Starter 2010
Web Page (*.htm; *.html) Office Starter 2010 does not store Excel-specific feature information in this file format. You can open a file in this format, preserving any Excel-specific features that were created in an earlier version of Excel. However, you can save such a file (or any other workbook) in this file format for publishing purposes only.
Single File Web Page (*.mht; *.mhtml) Office Starter 2010 does not store Excel-specific feature information in this file format. You can open a file in this format, preserving any Excel-specific features that were created in an earlier version of Excel. However, you can save such a file (or any other workbook) in this file format for publishing purposes only.

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Check a workbook for compatibility with earlier versions of Excel

To make sure that a workbook does not have compatibility issues that cause a significant loss of functionality or a minor loss of fidelity in an earlier version of Excel, you can run the Compatibility Checker. The Compatibility Checker finds potential compatibility issues and helps you create a report so that you can resolve them.

Important    When you work on a workbook in Compatibility Mode, where the workbook is in Excel 97-2003 file format (.xls) instead of the new Excel 2010 XML-based file format (.xlsx) or binary file format (.xlsb), the Compatibility Checker runs automatically when you save a workbook.

  1. In Excel Starter 2010, open the workbook that you want to check for compatibility.
  2. On the File tab, click Info.
  3. Click the Check for Issues button, and then click Check Compatibility.

Compatibility Checker dialog box

  1. To check the workbook for compatibility every time that you save it, select the Check compatibility when saving this workbook check box.
  2. To create a report in a separate worksheet of all the issues that are listed in the Summary box, click Copy to New Sheet.

Tip    If available, you can click Find to locate the issues in the worksheet or Fix to resolve simple issues. For more complex issues, click Help for more information.

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