Office 2013: Force Excel, Word, or Powerpoint to Save in Older Formats

Sometimes, when you send a document, presentation, or spreadsheet, users with prior Office versions can often have problems opening and viewing it. These issues can be resolved by saving the file in an older format.

Recently, one of my colleagues had difficulty opening an Excel 2013 file in her Excel 2003 version. Although it is tempting to tell her that she needs to update to the latest version, it is just as simple for me to save in a version that is more compatible with her aging software. In fact, by using these steps, I can force Excel 2013 to save all my spreadsheets in the older version so she will never have issues working with my documents.

For this tutorial, the steps are explained using Excel 2013. However, the process is the same for Word and PowerPoint.

1.First, from the Excel ribbon, select the File tab. 

2.From the banner on the left, choose Options.

3.Under Excel Options on the left side, select Save.

4.Now, select the drop-down list under Save files in this format and choose Excel 97 – 2003. Then click OK

With the older format, your colleagues running ancient versions of Office should no longer have problems opening and using your documents.


About Alex Bahdanovich

Writer, author, wordsmith -- this tech enthusiast enjoys Starbucks, good reads, and golden retrievers.
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  • Incanto Blanko

    In Excel 2008 for the Mac, and presumably later versions but one would have to check:

    EXCEL –> PREFERENCES –> COMPATABILITY –> ‘Save files in this format’ dropdown.

    • David Kirk

      Thanks, Incanto! In 2011 versions for Mac, it continues to be the same menu structure as well.

  • Paul

    Was looking for something else, but found this page and just wanted to quickly say if you choose Save As for the document in the File menu, then the drop-down selector under the file name box in the save dialog box lets you save that individual Excel file as pretty much any format you want. A bit easier than changing your preferences if you just want to do this for one file.