Arc doesn't read x y data from excel

06-17-2012 11:13 AM
New Contributor
Trying to add xy coordinates from excel table. Table is formatted as number with eight decimal places. When I use the add x y data tool the decimal place comes up as "#" WTF? See image.
Thanks in advance
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2 Replies
Occasional Contributor III

you need a text header at the top of the column.  It's reading the first numbers in your lat-long data.

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Esri Frequent Contributor
Hi Tim,

Just wanted to add that it really doesn't matter if you set the format as numbers in Excel. ArcMap disregards this and scans the first 8 rows to determine field type. The 5th bullet point in the Understanding how to use Microsoft Excel files in ArcGIS article explains this:

"Excel does not enforce field types for values during data entry like standard databases do. Therefore, the field type specified in Excel is not used in determining the field type exposed in ArcGIS. Instead, field type in ArcGIS is determined by a scan of the values in the first eight rows for that field. If the scan finds mixed data types in a single field, that field will be returned as a string field, and the values will be converted to strings."

In your case, the issue is field headers, but another common issue with displaying XY data is that ArcMap is setting the field type as String because of mixed data types.
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