Importing Lotus Files into Excel
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First, a comment on the term import.  Many of our subscribers and students ask how to import files from Lotus and other programs.  It seems than the term import has stuck in our minds from year's past.  Importing and exporting files between files used to require many extra steps and, sometimes, extra software.  In Excel, the use of the term import and export have been, for the most part, been totally eliminated and replaced with the terms File Open and File Save As.  In other words, to open a Lotus file, simply open it through the File Open command.

Comments and Specifics:

To open a Lotus file:

  • Click on the File Open button (or File Open in the Menu)

  • Select the desired Lotus file to open (click on it)

  • Click on OK or Open (depending on the version of Excel you are using)

Note: with the File Open Dialog Box open, you may not see any Lotus files,
however, you are certain they do indeed exist.  Most likely Excel is displaying
only the Excel files.

In the File Open Dialog Box, the file box usually displays something like:

    *.xlsThis is telling Excel to list all the Excel files (all the files ending in .xls)
Simply change this to read one of the following:
    *.*List all the files in the directory

    *.wk1List all the Lotus wk1 files in the directory (.wk1 are Lotus, release 2 files)

    *.wk3List all the Lotus wk3 files in the directory (.wk3 are Lotus, release 3 files)

    *.wk4List all the Lotus wk4 files in the directory (.wk4 are Lotus, release 4, Window, files)

    *.wk?List all  Lotus wk files in the directory (the ? means any character in this position)

Then, only the requested files will appear.  Select the desired file and open it.  Excel converts it and opens it.  No special steps are needed.

Now, you have worked on the file and desire to save it.  Here's the tricky, or should I say interesting, part. Simply save the file; Excel saves the file in the same file format that it opened!  In other words, if you open a Lotus wk3 file, you will save it as a Lotus wk3 file. Excel converts it back to that format.

If you desire to save it as an Excel file then, in the File Type Box, click on the drop down list arrow and select Excel Workbook. It should be the first item in the list.  It will now be saved as an Excel file.

From here, your personal organization skills come into play.  If you no longer need the Lotus file, we recommend deleting it (or at least archiving it).   .........get it out of here! avoid later confusion.

If you are doing work on the file and then saving as a Lotus file so someone else can work on it, then do not save it as an Excel file.  A trap is that you save it in Excel then, some later time, you add an Excel feature or two, and then, when you convert it back to a Lotus format, the feature is dropped and, depending on the feature, you may have lost valuable data.

In other careful.

What versions of Lotus does Excel work with?

This depends on which version of Excel you are using.  The following is a short summary of how Excel works with Lotus files. 

Excel 5 works with Lotus wk3 files.  This means that if you have Lotus 4 for Windows,
you must save the file as a wk3 while you are in Lotus.  Excel 5 does not read Lotus 4
file formats and Lotus 4 does not save to Excel format.  Beginning with Lotus 5 for Windows, you can save your file as an Excel file.

Excel 7 (sometimes called Excel 95) and Excel 97 work with Lotus wk4 files

What Versions of other software does Excel work with?

The best answer here is to not give an answer.  In Excel, as with most newer Windows software, simply click on File Save and, in the File Type box, click on the drop down arrow for a list.

Compatible, compatible, compatible.....

When converting from one file format to another you will run across unexpected (and unexplainable) problems.  Although the file conversions go fairly well (i.e., they are compatible), there is always something that doesn't work or doesn't work quite right.

Also, Excel maintains the other file format internally, even if you save it as an  Excel file.  This means the file will contain excess baggage and will be somewhat larger and slower than normal.  I have developed the habit of starting clean with a new Excel file, if practical. 

dBase and Other Files

As mentioned above, just open the file, if it works, you're happy and, if not, look in the File Save As, File Format box and see what works.   You can usually accomplish your goal with some intermediate steps.  For example, save a Paradox file in dBase format and then Open the dBase file into Excel 5).