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Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: How Excel Treats Disk Files.
A normal Excel workbook has the file extension XLS. If you use the Open dialog box to open any other type of file, Excel will dutifully attempt to translate the information in that file into a meaningful format. For instance, if you attempt to open a file that contains nothing but text, Excel will read the information and place it in an otherwise blank workbook.
Excel can read files created by several other types of programs. The types of files you can open depend on your version of Excel. If there is any confusion as to how Excel should translate the file, it will ask you to select the type of translation to use. When you load a file created by another program into Excel, you should understand that you might lose some formatting that is unique to that particular program. Rest assured, however, that Excel will do its absolute best to faithfully translate and load the file as you requested.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2236) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: How Excel Treats Disk Files.
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