A Step-by-Step Guide to Converting XML Files to Excel Spreadsheets

The XML file format is quite commonly used on the web, and there is a possibility that sometimes you may have to work with the data in the XML file.

Now you can’t use the XML file directly, as it’s not meant to be read by humans (but machines).

In such a case, it would help to know how to convert the XML file to Excel so you can easily work with the data and analyze it.

In this tutorial, I will show you two really simple ways to import an XML file into Excel using Power Query.

Excel is one of the most popular spreadsheet programs used for data analysis and visualization. On the other hand, XML is commonly used for exchanging data between systems and applications.

If you have XML data that needs to be analyzed in Excel converting it into a spreadsheet format is essential.

In this comprehensive guide, I will explain different methods to import XML files into Excel workbooks along with steps to transform the data for further analysis.

Why Convert XML to Excel Spreadsheets?

Here are some common scenarios where converting XML data to Excel is necessary

  • To analyze XML data in Excel using charts, PivotTables, formulas, etc. This provides dynamic reporting and dashboards.

  • To extract specific pieces of information from a large XML data file and present in a spreadsheet format.

  • To convert XML feeds from web APIs, social media, financial systems into Excel for easier manipulation.

  • To migrate data from a database that can export XML files into Excel spreadsheets.

  • To cleanup and transform XML data into a well-formatted Excel table for non-technical users.

  • To integrate Excel models and tools with other systems that output data in XML format.

  • To leverage Excel’s features like filtering, sorting, conditional formatting on XML data.

  • To combine data from XML files with other data sources in Excel for analytics.

As you can see, converting XML to Excel provides versatility in analyzing, reporting and sharing data from disparate systems.

Methods to Import XML Files into Excel

There are a few different ways to convert an XML file to Excel spreadsheet format.

Using Get & Transform Data Feature

This is the most convenient way to import XML data if you have Excel 2016 or above.

Here are the steps to use it:

  1. Open the target Excel workbook. Go to Data tab.

  2. Click on ‘Get Data’ and choose ‘From File’ > ‘From XML’.

  3. Browse and select the source XML file. Click Import.

  4. When the Import Data dialog opens, select XML table in current worksheet or as new worksheet. Click OK.

  5. This will open the Power Query Editor. Select columns and apply transformations as needed.

  6. Finally click Close & Load to import the XML data into Excel.

This method works great for one-time import and transformation tasks.

Using Data Tab in Excel

If your Excel version doesn’t support Get & Transform, use this method:

  1. Open the target Excel workbook. Go to Data tab.

  2. Click on ‘From Other Sources’ and choose ‘From XML Data Import’.

  3. Select the XML file and click Import. The XML Import Wizard opens.

  4. Select the nodes and columns to import from the sample data preview.

  5. Specify whether to import into current or new worksheet. Click OK.

This gives you a simple point-and-click wizard to import XML files.

Using VBA Macro Code

For advanced XML to Excel conversion capabilities, you can write a VBA macro script.

Some key steps are:

  • Parse the XML file using DOM parser

  • Identify nodes to be imported

  • Map XML elements to Excel cells

  • Extract data from nodes and populate worksheet

  • Apply additional formatting and transformations

Writing a custom VBA macro provides the most flexibility for mapping complex XML structures.

Tips for Converting XML to Excel Spreadsheet

Here are some useful tips when importing XML files into Excel:

  • If XML file references an XSD schema, import schema first for proper data mapping.

  • Remove namespaces from XML tags and simplify node names for easy import.

  • Use Power Query or XML mapper tool to transform nested XML data into flat table structure.

  • Import only nodes you need instead of large complete XML data for better performance.

  • After importing, adjust column datatypes in Excel if incorrectly detected from XML.

  • If needed, write VBA code to apply additional transformations during XML to Excel conversion.

  • Ensure the source XML file is valid and well-formatted without syntax errors.

  • Save the Excel file as XML Spreadsheet 2003 format if you need to export data back to XML.

Common Challenges with Converting XML to Excel

Here are some common issues faced when importing XML data into Excel and how to resolve them:

  • Excel not mapping XML elements to columns properly: Simplify XML tag names without namespaces, prefixes.

  • XML file is too large to import fully: Filter and import only required nodes, elements.

  • XML data not importing with correct data types: Change column formatting after import.

  • XML has lots of nested, hierarchical data: Flatten using Power Query or write VBA to parse.

  • XML file has errors or incorrect syntax: Validate XML file using schema validators.

  • Formulas and external references lost from XML: Use VBA to re-create connections/links after import.

  • XML data not refreshing when source file changed: Set up reconnection or import again.

Converting XML data files into Excel spreadsheets unlocks many possibilities for easier reporting and analytics using Excel’s powerful features.

Whether the data needs a simple import or complex multi-level mapping, the methods covered in this guide will help you integrate XML with Excel seamlessly.

how to convert xml to excel

Import XML File to Excel

If you already have an XML file (either downloaded on your system or a link to it on the web), you can easily convert it into data in an Excel file.

Thanks to Power Query (now called ‘Get & Transform’)

What is an XML File?

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. An XML file can hold data in a format that can easily be read by apps and systems.

But it’s not as easy to read for humans, which is why we may have to transform it into a format that’s easier to use.

If it contains a lot of text data, then you can use a text editor to read the XML file, and if it contains data, then you can import that XML file into Excel and then work with the data.

XML is quite widely accepted as a file format to store and transmit data over the web.

A lot of popular file formats, such as Microsoft Office Open XML, LibreOffice, OpenDocument, XHTML, and SVG, also use the XML file format.

Most popular websites on the Internet have their sitemap in an XML format.

This is a file that contains the details of all the important pages and categories on a website. Here is an example of the sitemap from Forbes.

Now let’s see how to convert an XML file to Excel using Power Query.

Convert XML file into excel file | Import XML into excel | Change XML into XLS

How to convert an XML file into Excel?

So these are two simple ways that you can use to convert an XML file into Excel. If you have the XML file on your system, you can import the data easily using Power Query. And if you have a web URL of the XML file, then you can also fetch that data into Excel.

How to update XML data in Excel?

With converted XML files in Excel, you can retrieve those updates without repeating the full import process. You can right-click any cell in the XML data worksheet and hit the “Refresh” option, and the worksheet updates itself with any new data from the source.

How do I import XML data into a new worksheet?

Select XML table in new worksheet to import the contents of the file into an XML table in a new worksheet starting at cell A1. The schema of the XML data file is displayed in the XML Source task pane. If the XML data file doesn’t refer to a schema, then Excel infers the schema from the XML data file.

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