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How to Save Excel Workbook Files in Different Formats

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  • 0:01 File Formats
  • 0:43 PDF, CSV & Older…
  • 3:11 The Save As Function
  • 5:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

Need a PDF version of your MS Excel workbook? Have a large spreadsheet that needs to be converted to a comma delimited file? This lesson will take you through the steps to converting your Excel spreadsheets to different file formats.

File Formats

You can save Excel files in several different formats. The three most common operations would be to save as a PDF file, convert to a CSV file, or a comma delimited file, or save as an older version of MS Excel. Before we get into the steps, let's review the different types of files and why you might want to save an Excel file as something other than a MS Excel workbook.

This lesson will cover two main topics. The first will describe the three different file formats and why you might want to use them. The second topic will explain how to convert your Excel workbook to a different file type.

PDF, CSV and Older Versions of Excel

The first and most common file format is a PDF file. PDF stands for portable document format, and the name really says it all. The file format is a portable, electronic document that can be easily shared, especially via the web and email. When a file is saved as a PDF file, all the content and elements of the document are converted to an electronic image. The benefit? The receiver of the document requires simply a viewer to open a PDF file.

Nearly all of your recent computers come standard with a viewer, such as Adobe Reader, which is free to download in case your computer is missing the viewer. Because PDF is such a common file type, you will find that most recipients will be able to open, read and print the document.

The second most common file type is the CSV file format. This format is commonly referred to as a comma delimited file. Don't let the name scare you. This type of file format is normally used when you need to take the data in a spreadsheet and put it in a format that can be easily imported to other databases and applications. CSV file formats are more generic and easily read by a vast majority of database systems. Many companies take the data from a spreadsheet and import the information to a database in order to do more with the data. For instance, more complex databases can perform more complex reporting functions.

Finally, saving your workbook as an earlier version of Excel is still a common file format. Not all users have upgraded to 2013. Even though older versions usually will open a MS Excel 2013 workbook, some content may not work the same or look the same. An example would be the SmartArt feature that was introduced in 2010. Older versions of Excel may have trouble with these types of objects, making it necessary to save the file as a 97-2003 version.

So, there you go. These are the most common file formats when saving your workbook as something other than the standard MS Excel workbook. Let's take a look now at how to actually convert your Excel workbook to one of these types of files.

The Save As Function

The actual process of converting your MS Excel workbook as a different file format is easy. It uses the Save As feature in Excel. You simply select the file type you want, and Excel does the rest.

Go to the File menu in the ribbon and notice the two Save commands. One is Save and the other is Save As. Clicking on Save will save your file as a standard MS Excel workbook. However, the Save As will open a dialogue box with options so you can select exactly where and how you want to save the file. Here you can change the folder you save the file to; you can change the name of the file, and most importantly, you can choose the file type.

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