Cell styles in OpenXML spreadsheet (SpreadsheetML)

Right, I managed to figure this out, after a lot of experimentation.

It turns out that excel reserves styles 0 and 1 for normal cells and "Gray125" pattern fill respectively. Most of the above code can be removed, as we only need a CellFormat really.

Working code:

Console.WriteLine("Creating document");
using (var spreadsheet = SpreadsheetDocument.Create("output.xlsx", SpreadsheetDocumentType.Workbook))
{
    Console.WriteLine("Creating workbook");
    spreadsheet.AddWorkbookPart();
    spreadsheet.WorkbookPart.Workbook = new Workbook();
    Console.WriteLine("Creating worksheet");
    var wsPart = spreadsheet.WorkbookPart.AddNewPart<WorksheetPart>();
    wsPart.Worksheet = new Worksheet();

    var stylesPart = spreadsheet.WorkbookPart.AddNewPart<WorkbookStylesPart>();
    stylesPart.Stylesheet = new Stylesheet();

    Console.WriteLine("Creating styles");

    // blank font list
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Fonts = new Fonts();
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Fonts.Count = 1;
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Fonts.AppendChild(new Font());

    // create fills
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Fills = new Fills();

    // create a solid red fill
    var solidRed = new PatternFill() { PatternType = PatternValues.Solid };
    solidRed.ForegroundColor = new ForegroundColor { Rgb = HexBinaryValue.FromString("FFFF0000") }; // red fill
    solidRed.BackgroundColor = new BackgroundColor { Indexed = 64 };

    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Fills.AppendChild(new Fill { PatternFill = new PatternFill { PatternType = PatternValues.None } }); // required, reserved by Excel
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Fills.AppendChild(new Fill { PatternFill = new PatternFill { PatternType = PatternValues.Gray125 } }); // required, reserved by Excel
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Fills.AppendChild(new Fill { PatternFill = solidRed });
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Fills.Count = 3;

    // blank border list
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Borders = new Borders();
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Borders.Count = 1;
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Borders.AppendChild(new Border());

    // blank cell format list
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.CellStyleFormats = new CellStyleFormats();
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.CellStyleFormats.Count = 1;
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.CellStyleFormats.AppendChild(new CellFormat());

    // cell format list
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.CellFormats = new CellFormats();
    // empty one for index 0, seems to be required
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.CellFormats.AppendChild(new CellFormat());
    // cell format references style format 0, font 0, border 0, fill 2 and applies the fill
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.CellFormats.AppendChild(new CellFormat { FormatId = 0, FontId = 0, BorderId = 0, FillId = 2, ApplyFill = true }).AppendChild(new Alignment { Horizontal = HorizontalAlignmentValues.Center });
    stylesPart.Stylesheet.CellFormats.Count = 2;

    stylesPart.Stylesheet.Save();

    Console.WriteLine("Creating sheet data");
    var sheetData = wsPart.Worksheet.AppendChild(new SheetData());

    Console.WriteLine("Adding rows / cells...");

    var row = sheetData.AppendChild(new Row());
    row.AppendChild(new Cell() { CellValue = new CellValue("This"),  DataType = CellValues.String });
    row.AppendChild(new Cell() { CellValue = new CellValue("is"),    DataType = CellValues.String });
    row.AppendChild(new Cell() { CellValue = new CellValue("a"),     DataType = CellValues.String });
    row.AppendChild(new Cell() { CellValue = new CellValue("test."), DataType = CellValues.String });

    sheetData.AppendChild(new Row());

    row = sheetData.AppendChild(new Row());
    row.AppendChild(new Cell() { CellValue = new CellValue("Value:"),   DataType = CellValues.String });
    row.AppendChild(new Cell() { CellValue = new CellValue("123"),      DataType = CellValues.Number });
    row.AppendChild(new Cell() { CellValue = new CellValue("Formula:"), DataType = CellValues.String });
    // style index = 1, i.e. point at our fill format
    row.AppendChild(new Cell() { CellFormula = new CellFormula("B3"),   DataType = CellValues.Number, StyleIndex = 1 });

    Console.WriteLine("Saving worksheet");
    wsPart.Worksheet.Save();

    Console.WriteLine("Creating sheet list");
    var sheets = spreadsheet.WorkbookPart.Workbook.AppendChild(new Sheets());
    sheets.AppendChild(new Sheet() { Id = spreadsheet.WorkbookPart.GetIdOfPart(wsPart), SheetId = 1, Name = "Test" });

    Console.WriteLine("Saving workbook");
    spreadsheet.WorkbookPart.Workbook.Save();

    Console.WriteLine("Done.");
}

Some advice:

Use ClosedXML if you want to avoid this insanity.

I cannot recommend ClosedXML highly enough if you're doing this kind of work. The OpenXML API and format is horribly tedious to work with on its own, with all sorts of undocumented cases. ClosedXML does so much of the leg work for you. They're also really great at getting bugs fixed quickly.

A more generic answer, all this I found after testing, so no documentation to point to.

Once you set a CellFormats collection in the stylesheet Excel runs a deeper validation on it.

CellFormats cannot be empty, it must have at least one CellFormat there.

Once you add a CellFormat, Excel will complain if Fills, Fonts or Borders collections are empty.

First Font is used as default for whole workbook and also Column/Row headers in Excel.

Excel will ignore first CellFormat, so just add an empty one.

If you need a Border or Fill in your format, Excel will also ignore first Border and Fill, so also add empty ones as first child in Borders and Fills.

Finally, starting in the second CellFormat (s = "1") you're good to go.

Tested in Excel 2010.