Microsoft KB Archive/103685

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Excel: Filenames and File Formats in Windows and MS-DOS

Last reviewed: September 12, 1996
Article ID: Q103685

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Excel for Windows, versions 3.0 and 4.0
  • Microsoft Excel for OS/2, version 3.0


This article provides an overview of the file naming conventions, filename extensions, and the various file formats you can use with Microsoft Excel versions 3.0 and 4.0 for Windows and Microsoft Excel version 3.0 for OS/2.

File Naming Conventions

When you name a document in Microsoft Excel for Windows or Microsoft Excel for OS/2, you must follow the MS-DOS naming conventions--that is, the filename can be a maximum of eight characters plus an extension of up to three characters. The filename and extension are separated by a period.

Filename Extensions and File Formats

Each type of document has its own filename extension. If you do not use a filename extension when you save a document, Microsoft Excel automatically appends one to your filename. Although it is not required, you may find it convenient to use the designated Microsoft Excel filename extensions so that you can quickly identify the type of document that a particular file contains.

The following table lists the file formats and the default filename extensions for Microsoft Excel 3.0 and 4.0:

   File format          Default extension
   Normal                     .XLS
   Template                   .XLT
   Excel 2.1                  .XLS
   Excel 3.0                  .XLS
   SYLK                       .SLK
   Text                       .TXT
   CSV                        .CSV
   WKS                        .WKS
   WK1                        .WK1
   WK3                        .WK3
   DIF                        .DIF
   DBF2                       .DBF
   DBF3                       .DBF
   DBF4                       .DBF
   Text (OS/2 or MS-DOS)      .TXT
   CSV (OS/2 or MS-DOS)       .CSV

When you save a Microsoft Excel worksheet in any of the above file formats, the appropriate filename extension will be appended to the filename by default.


You can save a Microsoft Excel file in the Normal file format and name it with any filename extension you choose. For example, the filenames LUNCH.XLS and LUNCHM.ENU are both valid Microsoft Excel filenames.

A file's format is determined by the format that you use to save the file not by its filename extension. For example, a file imported from Lotus 1-2-3 in WK3 format has the filename extension .WK3. When you open this file in Microsoft Excel, the format type remains WK3. To save this file as a Microsoft Excel file, do the following:

  1. From the File menu, choose Save As.
  2. Under Save File As Type, choose Normal.
  3. Resave the file to convert it to a Microsoft Excel file.

Just changing the filename extension from .WK3 to .XLS will not alter the file's format. Lotus 1-2-3 is manufactured by Lotus, a vendor independent of Microsoft; we make no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding this product's performance or reliability.


"User's Guide 1," version 4.0, page 61 "User's Guide," version 3.0, pages 138-139

KBCategory: kbusage


Additional reference words: 3.00 4.00

Last reviewed: September 12, 1996
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