Excel File Formats (Workbook Extensions)

- Written by Puneet

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In Excel, extensions are file formats that save and share a workbook. Each extension has specific features and uses. And, Excel supports a wide range of file extensions, totaling 29 different formats.

Below are the top text file formats which you will be using a lot more than other formats:

  • Excel Workbook (.xlsx): This is the default file format for Excel.
  • Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook (.xlsm): Similar to .xlsx but allows you to save macros.
  • Excel Binary Workbook (.xlsb): This format saves your workbook in a binary format.
  • Excel 97-2003 Workbook (.xls): An older format used in Excel 97 to 2003.
  • CSV (Comma Delimited) (.csv): A plain text format where each value is separated by a comma.
  • Excel Template (.xltx): A template format that allows you to create reusable templates.
  • Excel Macro-Enabled Template (.xltm): Similar to .xltx but supports macros.
  • XML Data (.xml): Saves data in a structured, readable XML format.
  • Text (Tab delimited) (.txt): Saves data as plain text with tabs separating each value.
  • OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods): A format used by many spreadsheet applications, including Excel and LibreOffice.

All 29 File Formats that are available in Excel Save Workbook

Below we have explained each of the all the available extension in Excel which you can use to save your workbook.

1. Excel Workbook (.xlsx)

An Excel Workbook (.xlsx) is the default file format for saving a file in Microsoft Excel. It was introduced in Excel 2007 and is used in all newer versions. The “.xlsx” format stores data in a structured way, using an XML-based format, which makes the files smaller and more efficient than the older “.xls” format.

When you save a file as .xlsx, it includes everything in your workbook, like worksheets, formulas, charts, and formatting. This format doesn’t allow macros, which is a programming for automating tasks in Excel. Overall, is widely used because it’s compatible with many software applications and provides a balance of functionality and file size.

2. Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook (.xlsm)

An Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook (.xlsm) is a file format used in Excel to save a workbook that includes macros. Macros are codes you can write to automate tasks, like filling in data or creating charts.

The “.xlsm” format is similar to the regular “.xlsx” format but with one key difference: it supports macros. This means you can use and save VBA code within the workbook.

3. Excel Binary Workbook (.xlsb)

An Excel Binary Workbook (.xlsb) is a file format used in Excel to save a workbook in binary format. This reduces the file size and allows Excel to open and save the file more quickly than the standard .xlsx format.

The “.xlsb” format is useful for large workbooks with lots of data and complex calculations. It includes everything in your workbook, like worksheets, formulas, charts, and formatting, just like .xlsx files.

One advantage of .xlsb files is that they can handle more data and perform better with large amounts of information.

4. Excel 97-2003 Workbook (.xls)

An Excel 97-2003 Workbook (.xls) is a file format used in older versions of Excel, specifically Excel 97 to Excel 2003. This format stores spreadsheets, including data, formulas, charts, and formatting.

The “.xls” format is less efficient than the newer .xlsx format, meaning the files are usually larger and slower to open. However, it is still helpful if you need to share files with people who use these older versions of Excel.

Using .xls not only ensures compatibility with older Excel versions but also demonstrates its versatility by being compatible with other software programs that might not support the newer .xlsx format.

5. CSV UTF-8 (Comma Delimited) (.csv)

A CSV UTF-8 (Comma Delimited) file stands for “Comma-Separated Values” and uses UTF-8 encoding, which means it can handle a wide range of characters from different languages.

In this format, your data is saved as plain text. Each line in the file represents a row in Excel, and a comma separates each value in a row. This makes it easy to share and import data into other programs, like databases or other spreadsheet applications.

It’s a simple and widely compatible format, but it doesn’t support advanced Excel features like formulas or formatting.

6. XML Data (.xml)

When you save a file as .xml, your data is stored in a structured, readable format that other software applications can easily share and use. Each piece of data is enclosed in tags, making it clear what the data represents.

XML stands for “Extensible Markup Language,” which is a way to structure data using tags. This format helps transfer data between different systems and web applications.

7. Single File Web Page (.mht, .mhtml)

A Single File Web Page (.mht, .mhtml) is a format you can use in Excel to save your spreadsheet as a web page. This format combines all the elements of the web page, such as images, text, and links, into a single file.

8. Web Page (.htm, .html)     

Web Page (.htm, .html) is a format you can use in Excel to save your spreadsheet as a web page. When you save a file as .htm or .html, Excel generates a set of files: one or more HTML files for the data and possibly a folder containing supporting files like images.

9. Excel Template (.xltx)

Excel Template (.xltx) is a file format that allows the creation of reusable templates. When you save a workbook as a .xltx file, you create a template that can be used as a starting point for new workbooks. This format preserves all your settings, such as formatting, formulas, and any pre-filled data.

10. Excel Macro-Enabled Template (.xltm)

An Excel Macro-Enabled Template (.xltm) is used to create templates that include macros. When you save a workbook as .xltm, it keeps all your settings and macros. Opening a .xltm file creates a new workbook based on the template, keeping the original template unchanged.

11. Excel 97-2003 Template (.xlt)

Excel 97-2003 Template (.xlt) is a template format for older versions of Excel from 97 to 2003. It saves formatting, formulas, and any pre-filled data. When you open a .xlt file, Excel creates a new workbook based on this template without changing the original.

12. Text (Tab delimited) (.txt)

A text (tab-delimited) (.txt) file is a format used in Excel to save data as plain text. In this format, each line in the file represents a row in your workbook, and a tab character separates each value within that row.

13. Unicode Text (.txt)

A Unicode Text file saves data in a plain text format that supports various characters from different languages. This ensures that special characters are preserved correctly.

14. XML Spreadsheet 2003 (.xml)

XML Spreadsheet 2003 (.xml) file saves your Excel data in an XML format, a structured, readable way to store data. This format is used for data exchange and storage but doesn’t support advanced Excel features like formulas or charts.

15. Microsoft Excel 5.0/95 (.xls)

Microsoft Excel 5.0/95 (.xls) file is an older format used in Excel versions 5.0 and 95. It stores data, formulas, and formatting. While it ensures compatibility with very old Excel versions.

16. CSV (Comma Delimited)

CSV (Comma Delimited) file saves your data as plain text, separating each value by a comma. Each line represents a row from your workbook. This format is highly used for data import and export between different software applications.

17. Formatted Text (Space delimited) (.prn)

Formatted Text (Space delimited) (.prn) file saves your data as plain text with spaces separating each value. Each line represents a row from your workbook.

18. Text (Macintosh)

Text (Macintosh) file saves your data as plain text, specifically formatted for Macintosh systems. Each line represents a row from your workbook.

19. Text (MS-DOS)

Text (MS-DOS) file saves your data as plain text, formatted for MS-DOS systems. Each line represents a row from your spreadsheet.

20. CSV (Macintosh)

CSV (Macintosh) file saves your data as plain text with values separated by commas, specifically formatted for use on Macintosh systems. Each line represents a row from your workbook, making sharing data across different platforms easy.

21. CSV (MS-DOS)

CSV (MS-DOS) file saves your data as plain text with values separated by commas, specifically formatted for MS-DOS systems. Each line represents a row from your workbook, making it easy to share data with older MS-DOS systems.

22. DIF (Data Interchange Format)

DIF (Data Interchange Format) file is used to transfer data between different spreadsheet programs. It saves your data in a plain text format with a specific structure.

SYLK (Symbolic Link) file saves your data in a text format that includes special codes to represent spreadsheet elements. It’s used for transferring data between different spreadsheet programs but not really in use these days.

24. Excel Add-In

Excel Add-In (.xlam) is a file that adds extra features to Excel. These add-ins can include custom functions, tools, or macros that enhance Excel’s capabilities. When you load an add-in, it becomes available in Excel, providing new options.

25. Excel 97-2003 Add-In (.xla)

Excel 97-2003 Add-In (.xla) is a file that adds extra features to Excel 97-2003. These add-ins can include custom functions and tools that enhance Excel’s capabilities. This format is used for compatibility with older versions of Excel.

26. PDF

PDF (Portable Document Format) file saves your Excel data in a format that’s easy to share and print. PDFs preserve your layout and formatting, making it ideal for sharing final versions of documents. However, PDFs don’t support editing in Excel.

27. XPS Document

XPS Document is similar to a PDF. It is used to save your Excel data in a fixed-layout format for easy sharing and printing. XPS files preserve the layout and formatting of your document but are not editable again in Excel.

28. Strict Open XML Spreadsheet

Strict Open XML Spreadsheet (.xlsx) file is a stricter version of the standard .xlsx format. It follows more stringent rules for XML formatting, ensuring better compatibility and data integrity but with fewer features.

29. OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods)

An OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods) file is a format used by many spreadsheet applications, including Excel and LibreOffice. It’s useful for sharing data between different programs and supports most workbook features, such as data, formulas, and formatting.

Last Updated: May 21, 2024