How to Export Data to Excel

Learn to make reporting much easier

Microsoft Excel is an amazing tool, but it's only as useful as the data it has access to. If you're working in a different application like Microsoft Access, Google Adwords, Gmail, or any other program that can export data into a CSV or XLS file, then you should learn how to import a file into Excel. That way you can perform all sorts of functions and formulas to better interpret your data, or simply have better control over how it's displayed and managed.

For more tips, check out our Excel how to guides.

The screenshots alongside these instructions are for the Microsoft 365 version of Excel, but the instructions will apply to Excel 2019 and Excel 2016, as well.

How to Export Data to Excel

Excel can grab data from a variety of sources, from other Excel workbooks, to text files, Facebook, other tables and data ranges, and any web URL you input. If you have ready access to the data, you can import straight from that source, which is what we'll address here.

For some applications, you may need to Export the data from that application first, or even have the options to export directly to Excel. That goes beyond the scope of this article as there are too many applications to list individually. But as a rule of thumb, it can be achieved by going to File > Export and selecting a file type that is compatible with Excel, or Excel itself if exporting directly to it. Microsoft Excel supports long list of file formats, but you typically want the data represented in either a Comma Separated Value (CSV) or text format.

How to Import Data to Excel

If you want to practice exporting data to Excel, you can follow along with our example using sample database from Microsoft.

  1. Before you begin your export/import process, it's a good idea to give your data a quick look to make sure everything is in order. You're only wasting your time if you import incorrect or incomplete data, because you may need to redo the entire import/export operation.

  2. When you're ready, export the data if necessary with your particular application or source, and then open (or create) the Excel worksheet that you want to import the data to.

  3. Select the Data tab in the top menu.

    The Data tab in Excel
  4. Above the Get and Transform Data subheading are a number of options you can select, but if none of them apply, select the generalized Get Data button.

    The "Get& Transform Data" options in Excel
  5. To import an Access database, select Get Data > From Database > From Microsoft Access Database.

    The menu to import an Access database into Excel
  6. In the subsequent File Explorer window, select the database (or other file type) that you want to import the data from and select OK.

  7. If your Access file has a number of databases, the Navigator window will provide a number of import options. In this case, import qrySalesbyCategory by selecting it and then selecting Load. To make any changes to the data before importing it, select Transform Data instead.

    The Load and Transform Data buttons

Excel can only import the datasheet, form, and report. Extras like macros and modules will not be imported into your Excel worksheet.

Depending on the size of your database and the speed of your PC, importing the data can take some time, so wait for it to complete. But, if all has gone to plan, when it's finished you should now see your data fully imported into Excel and displayed in a useful format. You can continue to import data if you need more, or get to work on applying functions, formulas, and other useful tools that Excel has to offer.

Import data to Excel

In some compatible applications, like Access, data can simply be copied from an active Access database and paste it into Excel. For more types on that, check out our guide to copy and pasting.