This section introduces Excel data models, its representing data structures and provides an overview of formatting, transformation, manipulation supported by pyexcel

Data models and data structures

When dealing with excel files, there are three primary objects: cell, sheet and book. A book contains one or more sheets and a sheet is consisted of a sheet name and a two dimensional array of cells. Although a sheet can contain charts and a cell can have formula, styling properties, this library ignores them and pay attention to the data in the cell and its data type. So, in the context of this library, the definition of those three concepts are:

concept definition pyexcel data model
a cell is a data unit a Python data type
a sheet is a named two dimensional array of data units Sheet
a book is a dictionary of two dimensional array of data units. Book

Data source

The most popular data source is an excel file. Libre Office/Microsoft Excel could easily generate an new excel file of desired format. Besides a physical file, this library recognizes additional three additional sources:

  1. Excel files in computer memory. For example when a file was uploaded to a Python server for information processing, if it is relatively small, it will be stored in memory.
  2. Database tables. For example, a client would like to have a snapshot of some database table in an excel file and ask it to be sent to him.
  3. Python structures. For example, a developer may have scrapped a site and hence stored data in Python array or dictionary. He may want to save those information as a file.

Data format

This library and its plugins support most of the frequently used excel file formats.

file format definition
csv comma separated values
tsv tab separated values
csvz a zip file that contains one or many csv files
tsvz a zip file that contains one or many tsv files
xls a spreadsheet file format created by MS-Excel 97-2003 [1]
xlsx MS-Excel Extensions to the Office Open XML SpreadsheetML File Format. [2]
xlsm an MS-Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook file
ods open document spreadsheet
json java script object notation
html html table of the data structure
simple simple presentation
rst rStructured Text presentation of the data
mediawiki media wiki table

See also A list of file formats supported by external plugins.

Data transformation

Quite often, a developer would like to have the excel data in a Python data structures. This library supports the conversions from previous three data source to the following list of data structures, and vice versa.

A list of supported data structures
Psudo name Python name Related model
two dimensional array a list of lists Sheet
a dictionary of one dimensional arrays a dictionary of lists Sheet
a list of dictionaries a list of dictionaries Sheet
a dictionary of two dimensional arrays a dictionary of lists of lists Book


>>> two_dimensional_list = [
...    [1, 2, 3, 4],
...    [5, 6, 7, 8],
...    [9, 10, 11, 12],
... ]
>>> a_dictionary_of_one_dimensional_arrays = {
...     "Column 1": [1, 2, 3, 4],
...     "Column 2": [5, 6, 7, 8],
...     "Column 3": [9, 10, 11, 12],
... }
>>> a_list_of_dictionaries = [
...     {
...         "Name": 'Adam',
...         "Age": 28
...     },
...     {
...         "Name": 'Beatrice',
...         "Age": 29
...     },
...     {
...         "Name": 'Ceri',
...         "Age": 30
...     },
...     {
...         "Name": 'Dean',
...         "Age": 26
...     }
... ]
>>> a_dictionary_of_two_dimensional_arrays = {
...      'Sheet 1':
...          [
...              [1.0, 2.0, 3.0],
...              [4.0, 5.0, 6.0],
...              [7.0, 8.0, 9.0]
...          ],
...      'Sheet 2':
...          [
...              ['X', 'Y', 'Z'],
...              [1.0, 2.0, 3.0],
...              [4.0, 5.0, 6.0]
...          ],
...      'Sheet 3':
...          [
...              ['O', 'P', 'Q'],
...              [3.0, 2.0, 1.0],
...              [4.0, 3.0, 2.0]
...          ]
...  }

Data manipulations

The main operation on a cell involves cell access, formatting and cleansing. The main operation on a sheet involves the group access to a row or a column, data filtering and data transformation. The main operation in a book is obtain access to individual sheets.

Data transcoding

For various reasons, the data in one format is to be transcoded into another format. This library provides the transcoding tunnel for data transcoding in between supported file formats.

[1]quoted from Technical details can be found at MSDN XLS
[2]xlsx is used by MS-Excel 2007, more information can be found at MSDN XLSX