Excel in ArcGIS Desktop

December 7, 2008 by  
Filed under GIS Tips

You may not realize it, but you can actually add Excel spreadsheets to ArcMap without having to convert it to a *.dbf.  ESRI has made it possible in the ArcGIS 9.2 version and higher.  This is a big time saver.  There have been many times that I have had non-spatial data that I would like to join up to a feature class.  I used to open the excel document and do a save as .dbf and then add the .dbf to my map to complete the join.  Now you can add an individual sheet.  I would go into details about this, but ESRI has a blog post entitled: Formatting Excel Data for Use in ArcGIS Desktop that covers it just as well as I could do.

Also note that Excel 2007 does not allow a file to be saved as a .dbf.  Adding the actual excel file in this situation is the simplest way to integrate this data.

The Formatting Excel Data for Use in ArcGIS Desktop post has a main focus on formatting your excel data to be uses efficiently in ArcGIS.  Towards the end of the post there are some basic instructions to adding the data to you map document.

A few things that were not mentioned that I would like to point out:

  • If you add and excel sheet to ArcMap, make sure that you do not have it open.  Although it will work fine and the data will update as you change it in excel, this could form issues.  If you do keep it open, you must open the excel file before adding it to the map (see next item).
  • If you have added an excel sheet to ArcMap then go to open the excel file, excel will say that the file is already open and only allow it to be viewed in read only format.
  • Make sure the fields you use to join are formatted with the same field types as the joined feature class.

Learn how to Create Point File from XY Data that you add in from excel or a *dbf.

Related Blog Posts

ArcGIS and Excel are Worthwhile

Tips for Excel in ArcGIS

New Attribute Data Collection Tool for ArcGIS Users


3 Comments on "Excel in ArcGIS Desktop"

  1. Akmed on Mon, 8th Dec 2008 4:40 am 

    Thanks for this. http://gispathway.com/ is now in my feed reader, I’ll keep and eye out for your next story. I like the layout of your site, nice and clean and easy to read. Thakns.

  2. Stu on Tue, 23rd Dec 2008 3:36 pm 

    I also found this article to be a “must” when joining Excel spreadsheets in 9.2:


  3. neuf on Wed, 29th Jun 2011 8:27 am 

    je veux avoir un support pour l’utilisation de arcmap niveau 1

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