Add a field to Microsoft Excel and CSV files in ArcGIS Desktop

Last Published: April 25, 2020


The Add Field function in ArcGIS Desktop allows users to add fields to a table. However, it is not possible to use this function to add a field in Microsoft Excel (.xls and .xlsx) and CSV (.csv) files as they cannot be edited and are set to read-only in ArcGIS. Attempts to add a field to these tables using the Add Field function fail and the function is displayed as inactive (grayed out). For more information, refer to Edit an active table.


The instructions provided describe how to export a CSV file to a geodatabase table in ArcGIS Desktop to add fields to the table.

For Microsoft Excel files (.xls or .xlsx), change the extension of the file to .csv. This changes the table file format from an Excel file to a CSV file.
  1. Export the CSV table to a geodatabase table.
    1. In ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro, add the CSV file.
    2. In Table Of Contents (ArcMap) or the Contents (ArcGIS Pro) pane, right-click the table and click Data > Export.
    3. In the Export Data dialog box, set the name and location of the Output table. Select a file or personal geodatabase to store the output table.
    4. Click OK. The exported geodatabase table is added to the Table Of Contents or Contents pane.
  2. Add a field to the exported table. To do this, refer to Adding fields. The attributes in the table can be edited.
The table can be exported to an Excel file using the Table To Excel tool. Refer to How To: Export an attribute table to Microsoft Excel for steps to do this.

Article ID:000020653

  • ArcMap
  • ArcGIS Pro

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