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: Working with Lotus 1-2-3 Spreadsheets.

Working with Lotus 1-2-3 Spreadsheets

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 30, 2013)

You probably already know that Excel will easily open a wide variety of spreadsheets stored in other formats. One that it will open is spreadsheets originally created in Lotus 1-2-3. If you have some old 1-2-3 files and you want to make sure that they are treated, in Excel, according to Lotus 1-2-3 "rules," there are a couple of settings you need to pay attention to. These settings are available from the Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.) Choose Options from the Tools menu to display this dialog box.

Figure 1. The Transition tab of the Options dialog box.

Make sure the Transition tab is displayed. Notice the two options under Sheet Options; these are what you need to work with:

  • Transition Formula Evaluation. When checked, this option causes Excel to open and evaluate 1-2-3 files without losing or changing information. Based on the formulas in the 1-2-3 file, if this option isn't checked, then you might lose some data or some formulas won't calculate the same in Excel as they would have in Lotus 1-2-3. Specifically, with this option selected Excel evaluates text strings as 0 (zero), Boolean expressions as 0 or 1, and database criteria according to the rules used in Lotus 1-2-3.
  • Transition Formula Entry. If this check box is selected, then formulas entered in Lotus 1-2-3 version 2.2 syntax are converted to Excel syntax. This option should not be selected if you don't plan on saving the spreadsheet in Excel format.

Make your settings, as desired, then close the Options dialog box. Open the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet and Excel should process the file according to the settings you made.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3057) 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: Working with Lotus 1-2-3 Spreadsheets.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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