Formatting a table in Microsoft Excel for use 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.

  1. Make sure the first row of the worksheet is properly formatted, since it will be used for the field names in ArcGIS.

    You should follow these general best practices for field naming, particularly if you want to join an Excel table to another table in ArcMap:

    • Field names must start with a letter.
    • Field names must contain only letters, numbers, and underscores.
    • Field names must not exceed 64 characters.

  2. If you have cells with numeric data, dates, and so on, make sure the content is consistently formatted—in other words, make sure all the numeric data is actually numeric. ArcMap scans the first eight rows to determine the field type that should be used. If there are other types of data in those rows, the field is converted to text when the table is in ArcMap.

    Numeric fields are converted to the double data type in ArcGIS.

    ArcMap can only read the first 255 characters of a cell. If you have more characters than that, ArcMap converts the field to a BLOB type and you won't be able to read its contents.

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