Problem: Unable to export feature classes or shapefiles joined to an Excel spreadsheet


Feature classes or shapefiles that are joined to an Excel spreadsheet may fail to export.


There are several possible causes for the problem:

• The Excel table has fields with names starting with special characters; for example, if the table has a column formatted to use currency, and the dollar ($) symbol is used.

• The Excel table has field names longer than the specified limit for exporting data type:

 ▪ Geodatabase feature class, table, and field names can be up to 64 characters. Specifically, users can only enter up to 52 characters for a feature class name in personal geodatabase because the system appends characters to a total of 64.

 ▪ Shapefiles and .dbf field names can be up to 10 characters long.

• The Excel table contains blank fields.

• The Excel table has field names that contain words that are considered as reserved keywords, such as date, day, month, table, text, user, when, where, year, and zone. Each underlying DBMS can have its own set of reserved keywords. For a list of keywords for Microsoft Access, refer to the following web document, List of reserved words in Access 2002 and in later versions of Access.

• The Excel table has field names that start with a numeric value.

Solution or Workaround

Use one of the solutions to try and resolve this issue; some cases may need more troubleshooting to completely resolve:

  • Remove special characters from the field names.
  • Rename the field names to meet the length requirements for exporting data type; for example, a shapefile field name must be shorter than 10 characters.
  • Remove any blank fields from the Excel table before joining it to the feature class or shapefile.
  • Convert the Excel table to a .dbf table, and then join it to the feature class or shapefile:

    1. Start ArcMap, and add the Excel spreadsheet to the map.

    2. Open the attribute table of the Excel table.

    3. Click the Table Options drop-down arrow, and select Export.
    4. In the Export Data window, click the Browse button.
    5. Under 'Save as type' drop-down list, select 'dBASE Table'.
    6. Specify an output location, a name for the file, and click Save.

    For multiple conversions, refer to the following ArcGIS Web Help document, Table to dBASE(Conversion).

    7. Add the newly created table to the map, join it to the feature class or shape file and continue as needed.
  • Remove any numbers from the beginning of field names, and add them to the end of the field name if needed; ensure there are no spaces or dashes in the field name as well.

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