Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
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Understanding the New Excel File Formats
Understanding the New Excel File Formats
Perhaps one of the most confusing aspects of Excel is the nearly overwhelming number of file
formats that it can read and write. With the introduction of Excel 2007, things got even more
confusing because it has quite a few new file formats.
This tip describes the new file formats used by Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Recognizing the new Excel file formats
Excel’s new file formats are
h XLSX: A workbook file that doesn’t contain macros
h XLSM: A workbook file that contains macros
h XLTX: A workbook template file that doesn’t contain macros
h XLTM: A workbook template file that contains macros
h XLSA: An add-in file
h XLSB: A binary file similar to the old XLS format but able to accommodate the new
h XLSK: A backup file
With the exception of XLSB, these are all open XML file formats, which means that other
applications can read and write these types of files.
The XML files are ZIP-compressed text files. If you rename one of these files so that
it has a ZIP extension, you can examine the contents by using any of several ZIP file
utilities — including the ZIP file support built into Windows.
The Office compatibility pack
Normally, those who use an earlier version of Excel can’t open workbooks saved in the new Excel
file formats. But, fortunately, Microsoft has released the free Compatibility Pack for Office 2003
and Office XP.
An Office 2003 or Office XP user who installs the Compatibility Pack can open files created in
Office 2007 and Office 2010 and also save files in the new formats. The Office programs that are
affected are Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.
To download the Compatibility Pack, search the Web for Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack .
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