Understanding how to use Microsoft Excel files in ArcGIS

You can open Microsoft Office Excel tables directly in ArcGIS and work with them like other tabular data sources. For example, you can add them to ArcMap, preview them in ArcCatalog, and use them as inputs to geoprocessing tools.

Excel files are added to ArcMap like other data, through the Add Data dialog box. When you browse to an Excel file, you will need to choose which table you want to open. For example, if you have an Excel workbook called sales_figures.xls that contains three worksheets—Sales, Month, and Year to date—each worksheet is a separate table in ArcGIS. Any name references to cells or ranges defined in Excel are preserved in ArcGIS.

When accessed from ArcGIS, a worksheet is shown as a table with a $ at the end of its name, but a named range does not have a $. Worksheets or named ranges with names containing spaces have single quotation marks placed around the table name.

Once added to ArcMap, you can open the table from the Source view of the table of contents. However, you will not be able to edit the table or export records to an Excel format.

The following example contrasts how a multisheet document is exposed in Microsoft Excel and on the ArcMap Add Data dialog box.

When working with Microsoft Office Excel files, there are a few things to keep in mind:


If you have previously specified on the File Types tab of the Customize > ArcCatalog Options dialog box that ArcCatalog show you .xls files, you'll need to remove this file type to be able to access Excel files directly.

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