File formats that are supported in Excel

You can save a Microsoft Excel 2010 file in another file format by clicking the File tab, and then clicking Save As. The file formats that are available in the Save As dialog box vary, depending on what type of sheet is active (a worksheet, chart sheet, or other type of sheet).

In Excel 2010, you can open a file that was created in another file format, either in an earlier version of Excel or in another program, by clicking the File tab, and then clicking Open. If you open an Excel 97-2003 workbook, it automatically opens in Compatibility Mode. To take advantage of the new features of Excel 2010, you can save the workbook to an Excel 2010 file format. However, you also have the option to continue to work in Compatibility Mode, which retains the original file format for backward compatibility.

Whenever you save a file in another file format, some of its formatting, data, and features might not be transferred.

In this article


Excel file formats

Format Extension Description
Excel Workbook .xlsx The default XML-based file format for Excel 2010 and Excel 2007. Cannot store Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro code or Microsoft Office Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
Excel Workbook (code) .xlsm The XML-based and macro-enabled file format for Excel 2010 and Excel 2007. Stores VBA macro code or Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
Excel Binary Workbook .xlsb The binary file format (BIFF12) for Excel 2010 and Excel 2007.
Template .xltx The default file format for an Excel template for Excel 2010 and Excel 2007. Cannot store VBA macro code or Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
Template (code) .xltm The macro-enabled file format for an Excel template Excel 2010 and Excel 2007. Stores VBA macro code or Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
Excel 97- Excel 2003 Workbook .xls The Excel 97 - Excel 2003 Binary file format (BIFF8).
Excel 97- Excel 2003 Template .xlt The Excel 97 - Excel 2003 Binary file format (BIFF8) for an Excel template.
Microsoft Excel 5.0/95 Workbook .xls The Excel 5.0/95 Binary file format (BIFF5).
XML Spreadsheet 2003 .xml XML Spreadsheet 2003 file format (XMLSS).
XML Data .xml XML Data format.
Excel Add-In .xlam The XML-based and macro-enabled Add-In format for Excel 2010 and Excel 2007. An Add-In is a supplemental program that is designed to run additional code. Supports the use of VBA projects and Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
Excel 97-2003 Add-In .xla The Excel 97-2003 Add-In, a supplemental program that is designed to run additional code. Supports the use of VBA projects.
Excel 4.0 Workbook .xlw An Excel 4.0 file format that saves only worksheets, chart sheets, and macro sheets. You can open a workbook in this file format in Excel 2010, but you cannot save an Excel file to this file format.

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Text file formats

Format Extension Description
Formatted Text (Space-delimited) .prn Lotus space-delimited format. Saves only the active sheet.
Text (Tab-delimited) .txt Saves a workbook as a tab-delimited text file for use on another Microsoft Windows operating system, and ensures that tab characters, line breaks, and other characters are interpreted correctly. Saves only the active sheet.
Text (Macintosh) .txt Saves a workbook as a tab-delimited text file for use on the Macintosh operating system, and ensures that tab characters, line breaks, and other characters are interpreted correctly. Saves only the active sheet.
Text (MS-DOS) .txt Saves a workbook as a tab-delimited text file for use on the MS-DOS operating system, and ensures that tab characters, line breaks, and other characters are interpreted correctly. Saves only the active sheet.
Unicode Text .txt Saves a workbook as Unicode text, a character encoding standard that was developed by the Unicode Consortium.
CSV (comma delimited) .csv Saves a workbook as a comma-delimited text file for use on another Windows operating system, and ensures that tab characters, line breaks, and other characters are interpreted correctly. Saves only the active sheet.
CSV (Macintosh) .csv Saves a workbook as a comma-delimited text file for use on the Macintosh operating system, and ensures that tab characters, line breaks, and other characters are interpreted correctly. Saves only the active sheet.
CSV (MS-DOS) .csv Saves a workbook as a comma-delimited text file for use on the MS-DOS operating system, and ensures that tab characters, line breaks, and other characters are interpreted correctly. Saves only the active sheet.
DIF .dif Data Interchange Format. Saves only the active sheet.
SYLK .slk Symbolic Link Format. Saves only the active sheet.

Note    If you save a workbook in any text format, all formatting is lost.

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Other file formats

Format Extension Description
DBF 3, DBF 4 .dbf dBase III and IV. You can open these files formats in Excel, but you cannot save an Excel file to dBase format.
OpenDocument Spreadsheet .ods OpenDocument Spreadsheet. You can save Excel 2010 files so they can be opened in spreadsheet applications that use the OpenDocument Spreadsheet format, such as Google Docs and OpenOffice.org Calc. You can also open spreadsheets in the .ods format in Excel 2010. Formatting might be lost when saving and opening .ods files.
PDF .pdf Portable Document Format (PDF). This file format preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. When the PDF format file is viewed online or printed, it retains the format that you intended. Data in the file cannot be easily changed. The PDF format is also useful for documents that will be reproduced by using commercial printing methods.
XPS Document .xps XML Paper Specification (XPS). This file format preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. When the XPS file is viewed online or printed, it retains exactly the format that you intended, and the data in the file cannot be easily changed.

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File formats that use the Clipboard

You can paste data from the Microsoft Office Clipboard into Excel by using the Paste or Paste Special command (Home tab, Clipboard group, Paste button) if the Office Clipboard data is in one of the following formats.

Format Extension Clipboard type identifiers
Picture .wmf or .emf

Pictures in Windows Metafile Format (WMF) or Windows Enhanced Metafile Format (EMF).

Note    If you copy a Windows metafile picture from another program, Excel pastes the picture as an enhanced metafile.

Bitmap .bmp Pictures stored in Bitmap format (BMP).
Microsoft Excel file formats .xls Binary file formats for Excel versions 5.0/95 (BIFF5), Excel 97-2003 (BIFF8), and Excel 2010 (BIFF12).
SYLK .slk Symbolic Link Format.
DIF .dif Data Interchange Format.
Text (tab-delimited) .txt Tab-separated text format.
CSV (Comma-delimited) .csv Comma-separated values format.
Formatted text (Space-delimited) .rtf Rich Text Format (RTF). Only from Excel.
Embedded object .gif, .jpg, .doc, .xls, or .bmp Microsoft Excel objects, objects from properly registered programs that support OLE (OLE: A program-integration technology that you can use to share information between programs. All Office programs support OLE, so you can share information through linked and embedded objects.) 2.0 (OwnerLink (OwnerLink: An OLE data format that describes an embedded object, identifying the class, document name, and name of an object. Each of these data items is a null-terminated string.)), and Picture or another presentation format.
Linked object .gif, .jpg, .doc, .xls, or .bmp OwnerLink, ObjectLink (ObjectLink: An OLE data format that describes a linked object, identifying the class, document name, and name of an object. Each of these data items is a null-terminated string.), Link, Picture, or other format.
Office drawing object .emf Office drawing object format or Picture (Windows enhanced metafile format, EMF).
Text .txt Display Text, OEM Text.
Single File Web Page .mht, .mhtml Single File Web Page (MHT or MHTML). This file format integrates inline graphics, applets, linked documents, and other supporting items referenced in the document.
Web Page .htm, .html

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).

Note    When you copy text from another program, Excel pastes the text in HTML format, regardless of the format of the original text.

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File formats that are not supported in Excel 2010

The following file formats are no longer supported in Excel 2010. You cannot open or save files in these file formats.

Format Extension Clipboard type identifiers
Excel Chart .xlc Excel 2.0, 3.0, and 2.x file formats
WK1, FMT, WK2, WK3, FM3, WK4 .wk1, .wk2, .wk3, .wk4, .wks Lotus 1-2-3 file formats (all versions)
Microsoft Works .wks Microsoft Works file format (all versions)
DBF 2 .dbf DBASE II file format
WQ1 .wq1 Quattro Pro for MS-DOS file format
WB1, WB3 .wb1, .wb3 Quattro Pro 5.0 and 7.0 for Windows.

Tips for file formats that are not supported by Excel

If a file format that you want to use is not supported in Excel, you can try the following:

  • Search the Web for a company that makes file format converters for file formats that are not supported in Excel.
  • Save to a file format that another program supports. For example, you may want to import your spreadsheet into another program that does not support the Excel file format. But the other program may be able to import another supported file format, such as an XML spreadsheet or a text file format. In this case, you can save your workbook to the XML spreadsheet format, and then from the other program, import the XML file.

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Formatting and features that are not transferred in Excel file format conversions

If you save a workbook in another file format, such as a text file format, some of the formatting and data might be lost, and other features might not be supported.

The following file formats have feature and formatting differences as described.

File format Feature differences
Formatted Text (Space delimited)

This file format (.prn) saves only the text and values as they are displayed in cells of the active worksheet.

If a row of cells contains more than 240 characters, any characters beyond 240 wrap to a new line at the end of the converted file. For example, if rows 1 through 10 each contain more than 240 characters, the remaining text in row 1 is placed in row 11, the remaining text in row 2 is placed in row 12, and so on.

Columns of data are separated by commas, and each row of data ends in a carriage return. If cells display formulas instead of formula values, the formulas are converted as text. All formatting, graphics, objects, and other worksheet contents are lost. The euro symbol will be converted to a question mark.

Note    Before saving a worksheet in this format, make sure that all of the data that you want converted is visible and that there is adequate spacing between the columns. Otherwise, data may be lost or not properly separated in the converted file. You may need to adjust the column widths of the worksheet before you convert it to formatted text format.

Text (Tab delimited)

This file format (.txt) saves only the text and values as they are displayed in cells of the active worksheet.

Columns of data are separated by tab characters, and each row of data ends in a carriage return. If a cell contains a comma, the cell contents are enclosed in double quotation marks. If the data contains a quotation mark, double quotation marks will replace the quotation mark, and the cell contents are also enclosed in double quotation marks. All formatting, graphics, objects, and other worksheet contents are lost. The euro symbol will be converted to a question mark.

If cells display formulas instead of formula values, the formulas are saved as text. To preserve the formulas if you reopen the file in Excel, select the Delimited option in the Text Import Wizard, and select tab characters as the delimiters.

Note    If your workbook contains special font characters, such as a copyright symbol (©), and you will be using the converted text file on a computer that has a different operating system, save the workbook in the text file format that is appropriate for that system. For example, if you are using Microsoft Windows and want to use the text file on a Macintosh computer, save the file in the Text (Macintosh) format. If you are using a Macintosh computer and want to use the text file on a system that is running Windows, save the file in the Text (Windows) format.

Text (Unicode) This file format (.txt) saves all text and values as they appear in cells of the active worksheet. However, if you open a file in Text (Unicode) format by using a program that does not read Unicode, the data will be lost.
CSV (Comma delimited)

This file format (.csv) saves only the text and values as they are displayed in cells of the active worksheet. All rows and all characters in each cell are saved. Columns of data are separated by commas, and each row of data ends in a carriage return. If a cell contains a comma, the cell contents are enclosed in double quotation marks.

If cells display formulas instead of formula values, the formulas are converted as text. All formatting, graphics, objects, and other worksheet contents are lost. The euro symbol will be converted to a question mark.

Note    If your workbook contains special font characters such as a copyright symbol (©), and you will be using the converted text file on a computer that has a different operating system, save the workbook in the text file format that is appropriate for that system. For example, if you are using Windows and want to use the text file on a Macintosh computer, save the file in the CSV (Macintosh) format. If you are using a Macintosh computer and want to use the text file on a system that is running Windows or Windows NT, save the file in the CSV (Windows) format.

DIF (Data Interchange Format)

This file format (.dif) saves only the text, values, and formulas on the active worksheet.

If worksheet options are set to display formula results in the cells, only the formula results are saved in the converted file. To save the formulas, do the following to display the formulas on the worksheet before you save the file.

  1. On the File tab, click Options.
  2. Click Advanced, and then under Display options for this worksheet, select the Show formulas in cells instead of their calculated results check box.

Column widths and most number formats are saved, but all other formats are lost.

Page setup settings and manual page breaks are lost.

Cell comments, graphics, embedded charts, objects, form controls, hyperlinks, data validation settings, conditional formatting, and other worksheet features are lost.

The data displayed in the current view of a PivotTable report is saved; all other PivotTable data is lost.

Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code is lost.

The euro symbol will be converted to a question mark.

SYLK (Symbolic Link)

This file format (.slk) saves only the values and formulas on the active worksheet, and limited cell formatting.

Up to 255 characters are saved per cell.

If an Excel function is not supported in SYLK format, Excel calculates the function before saving the file and replaces the formula with the resulting value.

Most text formats are saved; converted text takes on the format of the first character in the cell. Rotated text, merged cells, and horizontal and vertical text alignment settings are lost. The font color might be converted to a different color if you reopen the converted SYLK sheet in Excel. Borders are converted to single-line borders. Cell shading is converted to a dotted gray shading.

Page setup settings and manual page breaks are lost.

Cell comments are saved. You can display the comments if you reopen the SYLK file in Excel.

Graphics, embedded charts, objects, form controls, hyperlinks, data validation settings, conditional formatting, and other worksheet features are lost.

VBA code is lost.

The data displayed in the current view of a PivotTable report is saved; all other PivotTable data is lost.

Note    You can use this format to save workbook files for use in Microsoft Multiplan. Excel does not include file format converters for converting workbook files directly into the Multiplan format.

Web Page and Single File Web Page These Web Page file formats (.htm, .html), Single File Web Page file formats (.mht, .mhtml) can be used for exporting Excel data. In Excel 2010, worksheet features (such as formulas, charts, PivotTables, and Visual Basic for Application (VBA) projects) are no longer supported in these file formats, and they will be lost when you open a file in this file format again in Excel.
XML Spreadsheet 2003

This XML Spreadsheet 2003 file format (.xml) does not retain the following features:

  • Auditing tracer arrows
  • Chart and other graphic objects
  • Chart sheets, macro sheets, dialog sheets
  • Custom views
  • Data consolidation references
  • Drawing object layers
  • Outlining and grouping features
  • Password-protected worksheet data
  • Scenarios
  • User-defined function categories
  • VBA projects

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Applies to:
Excel 2010