Reading Excel with Python (xlrd)

Every 6-8 months, when I need to use the python xlrd library, I end up re-finding this page:

In this case, I’ve finally bookmarked it:)

from __future__ import print_function
from os.path import join, dirname, abspath
import xlrd

fname = join(dirname(dirname(abspath(__file__))), 'test_data', 'Cad Data Mar 2014.xlsx')

# Open the workbook
xl_workbook = xlrd.open_workbook(fname)

# List sheet names, and pull a sheet by name
sheet_names = xl_workbook.sheet_names()
print('Sheet Names', sheet_names)

xl_sheet = xl_workbook.sheet_by_name(sheet_names[0])

# Or grab the first sheet by index 
#  (sheets are zero-indexed)
xl_sheet = xl_workbook.sheet_by_index(0)
print ('Sheet name: %s' %

# Pull the first row by index
#  (rows/columns are also zero-indexed)
row = xl_sheet.row(0)  # 1st row

# Print 1st row values and types
from xlrd.sheet import ctype_text   

print('(Column #) type:value')
for idx, cell_obj in enumerate(row):
    cell_type_str = ctype_text.get(cell_obj.ctype, 'unknown type')
    print('(%s) %s %s' % (idx, cell_type_str, cell_obj.value))

# Print all values, iterating through rows and columns
num_cols = xl_sheet.ncols   # Number of columns
for row_idx in range(0, xl_sheet.nrows):    # Iterate through rows
    print ('-'*40)
    print ('Row: %s' % row_idx)   # Print row number
    for col_idx in range(0, num_cols):  # Iterate through columns
        cell_obj = xl_sheet.cell(row_idx, col_idx)  # Get cell object by row, col
        print ('Column: [%s] cell_obj: [%s]' % (col_idx, cell_obj))

Interact and pull data from a selected column. (This could be done with 1/5 of the code in pandas, etc.)

Code example

from __future__ import print_function
from os.path import join, dirname, abspath, isfile
from collections import Counter
import xlrd
from xlrd.sheet import ctype_text   

def get_excel_sheet_object(fname, idx=0):
    if not isfile(fname):
        print ('File doesn't exist: ', fname)

    # Open the workbook and 1st sheet
    xl_workbook = xlrd.open_workbook(fname)
    xl_sheet = xl_workbook.sheet_by_index(0)
    print (40 * '-' + 'nRetrieved worksheet: %s' %

    return xl_sheet

def show_column_names(xl_sheet):
    row = xl_sheet.row(0)  # 1st row
    print(60*'-' + 'n(Column #) value [type]n' + 60*'-')
    for idx, cell_obj in enumerate(row):
        cell_type_str = ctype_text.get(cell_obj.ctype, 'unknown type')
        print('(%s) %s [%s]' % (idx, cell_obj.value, cell_type_str, ))

def get_column_stats(xl_sheet, col_idx):
    :param xl_sheet:  Sheet object from Excel Workbook, extracted using xlrd
    :param col_idx: zero-indexed int indicating a column in the Excel workbook
    if xl_sheet is None:
        print ('xl_sheet is None')

    if not col_idx.isdigit():
        print ('Please enter a valid column number (0-%d)' % (xl_sheet.ncols-1))

    col_idx = int(col_idx)
    if col_idx < 0 or col_idx >= xl_sheet.ncols:
        print ('Please enter a valid column number (0-%d)' % (xl_sheet.ncols-1))

    # Iterate through rows, and print out the column values
    row_vals = []
    for row_idx in range(0, xl_sheet.nrows):
        cell_obj = xl_sheet.cell(row_idx, col_idx)
        cell_type_str = ctype_text.get(cell_obj.ctype, 'unknown type')
        print ('(row %s) %s (type:%s)' % (row_idx, cell_obj.value, cell_type_str))

    # Retrieve non-empty rows
    nonempty_row_vals = [x for x in row_vals if x]    
    num_rows_missing_vals = xl_sheet.nrows - len(nonempty_row_vals)
    print ('Vals: %d; Rows Missing Vals: %d' % (len(nonempty_row_vals), num_rows_missing_vals))

    # Count occurrences of values 
    counts = Counter(nonempty_row_vals)

    # Display value counts
    print ('-'*40 + 'n', 'Top Twenty Values', 'n' + '-'*40 )
    print ('Value [count]')
    for val, cnt in counts.most_common(20):
        print ('%s [%s]' % (val, cnt))

def column_picker(xl_sheet):
        input = raw_input
    except NameError:

    while True:
        col_idx = input("nPlease enter a column number between 0 and %d (or 'x' to Exit): " % (xl_sheet.ncols-1))
        if col_idx == 'x': 
        get_column_stats(xl_sheet, col_idx)

if __name__=='__main__':
    excel_crime_data = join(dirname(dirname(abspath(__file__))), 'test_data', 'Cad Data Mar 2014.xlsx')
    xl_sheet = get_excel_sheet_object(excel_crime_data)

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Notes while working in a large academic organization.

6 thoughts on “Reading Excel with Python (xlrd)”

  1. Please guide me how to ignore empty cell while readying content form xls sheet.

    My code is here

    import xlrd
    import datetime

    workbook = xlrd.open_workbook(‘C:/Users/rjega/Desktop/Domain.xls’)

    def xldate_to_datetime(xldate):
    temp = datetime.datetime(1900, 1, 1)
    delta = datetime.timedelta(days=xldate)
    return temp+delta

    for sheets in range(0,4):

    worksheet = workbook.sheet_by_index(sheets)

    if sheets == 0:
    for row in range(1,worksheet.nrows):
    #if worksheet.cell(row,2) != xlrd.XL_CELL_EMPTY:
    if worksheet.cell(row,2) != 6:
    print (row)
    print (worksheet.cell.ctype)
    print (xldate_to_datetime(worksheet.cell(row,2).value))


    #worksheet = workbook.sheet_by_index(sheets)
    #print (worksheet.cell(1,1).value)
    print (xldate_to_datetime(worksheet.cell(1,1).value))

  2. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the formatting on your last source code block is displaying your code in a 1-character-wide column that’s entirely illegible. Can you reproduce the bug?

    Thanks for the notes!

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