Search ArcUser

Spring 2012 Edition

Best Practices When Using Excel Files with ArcGIS

This article as a PDF.

How many times have you imported spreadsheet data into ArcGIS only to find some cells empty or formatted with an unwanted field type? To avoid these and other problems, follow these practices when creating and maintaining data in Excel you will use in ArcGIS.

1. When creating spreadsheets, make sure fields are fewer than 255 characters.

ArcGIS reads the first 255 field characters. Fields with more than 255 characters are converted to BLOB fields and are not readable. Abbreviate, manually truncate, or split any fields longer than 255 characters.

2. Check the numeric field type before and after importing Excel data.

ArcGIS typically converts spreadsheet numeric fields to double precision (Double), which may not meet your needs. If necessary, create new fields of the desired type and calculate values into them.

3. Check the format for date fields.

ArcGIS 10 uses the Lotus date/time format. In this format, the calendar date is represented by a whole number value that represents the number of days since January 1, 1900, plus one day (due to a bug in Lotus 123 and carried over to Excel). Time is represented as the decimal portion of a 24-hour day. If date/time data is important, format the input spreadsheet using a standard Excel date/time format.

4. Follow ArcGIS field naming rules when creating Excel column names.

The first row of an Excel worksheet sets the name for each column. Column names become field names when an Excel worksheet is imported into ArcGIS. Always follow these naming rules:

For more information, search ArcGIS 10.0 web help for Excel worksheet.

Contact Us | Privacy | Legal | Site Map