Excel formatting and features that are not transferred to other file formats

The .xlsx workbook format introduced in Excel 2007 preserves all worksheet and chart data, formatting, and other features available in earlier Excel versions, and the Macro-Enabled Workbook format (.xlsm) preserves macros and macro sheets in addition to those features.

If you frequently share workbook data with people who use an earlier version of Excel, you can work in Compatibility Mode to prevent the loss of data and fidelity when the workbook is opened in the earlier version of Excel, or you can use converters that help you transition the data. For more information, see Save an Excel workbook for compatibility with earlier versions of Excel.

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.

In this article

Formatted Text (Space delimited)

Text (Tab delimited)

Text (Unicode)

CSV (Comma delimited)

DIF (Data Interchange Format)

SYLK (Symbolic Link)

Web Page and Single File Web Page

XML Spreadsheet 2003

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.

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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 with 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 running Windows or Windows NT, save the file in the Text (Windows) format.

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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, such as Notepad in Windows 95 or a Microsoft MS-DOS-based program, your data will be lost.

Note: Notepad in Windows NT reads files in Text (Unicode) format.

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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 with 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 running Windows or Windows NT, save the file in the CSV (Windows) format.

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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, display the formulas on the worksheet before saving the file.

How to display formulas in worksheet cells

  1. Go to File > Options.

    If you're using Excel 2007, click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image then click Excel Options.

  2. Then go to Advanced > Display options for this worksheet and 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.

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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.

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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 2007 and later, 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.

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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

New features introduced with Excel 2007 and later versions, such as improved conditional formatting, are not supported in this file format. The new row and column limits introduced with Excel 2007 are supported. For more information, see: Excel specifications and limits.

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Need more help?

You can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community, get support in the Answers community, or suggest a new feature or improvement on Excel User Voice.

See Also

Save an Excel workbook for compatibility with earlier versions of Excel

Worksheet compatibility issues 

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