Prepare Excel Data for Import

Because Excel lets you enter anything in any cell, there are as many spreadsheet formats as there are spreadsheet creators. While your spreadsheet may make sense to you, a standard database program might have more trouble understanding your intentions. If your spreadsheet is arranged in a way that doesn't fit the model of a traditional database table (which you'll be able to identify in a minute), you need to tweak the format of your Excel data before you import it into QuickBase.

QuickBase needs your spreadsheet to be organized in consistent rows and columns.  Use the following guidelines to organize your spreadsheet before importing it into QuickBase:

QuickBase imports only the first worksheet in an Excel file.  If you need to import an additional worksheet from an Excel file, move that worksheet so that it is the first sheet in the workbook, save your changes, and then import the .xlsx file.

Example: Cleaning up your Excel spreadsheet

Before you begin cleaning up your Excel spreadsheet for import, it might look something like the one in below. This is a list of equipment sales. Most rows in this spreadsheet represent sales.

The Format Problems


This spreadsheet is a good start, but it's not ready for import into QuickBase. The data is not consistent. For example, the title in row 1 is not a record of a sale and does not contain data in each of the columns that you want to import, so delete it. Also, QuickBase won't know  who sold the color printer in row 5. QuickBase reads each row as an individual record and can't infer values based on indentation. If you import that line as is, the sale won't be connected with a rep.

What you need to do


Since you only want to import sales records, delete the title in row one. Then connect each sale with a sales rep by filling in the blank cells, highlighted in yellow. Leave the row of column headings. QuickBase will use it to name your columns. Don't worry about entire rows that are blank. QuickBase ignores them.

Note: If your spreadsheet contains a column or row that totals, delete it. QuickBase will total for you automatically. Excel formulas don't carry over into QuickBase. The import will think your Totals column is another column of data you entered manually, which may confuse you later when it does not update automatically.

The final result


Following the changes, this spreadsheet now flows seamlessly into QuickBase. Each sale is connected with a Sales Rep and there's no extraneous non-sale related data.

Other format issues

Text Notes

Does one cell in your spreadsheet contain a list of items? For example, do you list several contacts belonging to one company in a single cell? Or do you type keep a "notes" type column to remind you of upcoming dates?

Excel cells that list multiple items don't usually fit well into QuickBase.

If these are truly just text notes, that's fine. You can import the column into a Text - multi-line field type. But if a single field lists discrete pieces of information that you want to track individually (like dates and names), this kind of freestyle data entry won't import cleanly into QuickBase. You can import this data into a text field in order to get it into QuickBase, but it's likely that this data should be split up. In the case of a deadlines list like the one pictured here, each event should probably become an individual activity record or perhaps its own date field. Unfortunately, there's no magic wand that will split them up. You must do this manually. You can turn them into individual rows or columns here in Excel, or import the column into a QuickBase text field along with your other information and manually create additional records or fields later in QuickBase. Either way, the process is cumbersome. However, work you do now will pay off later in the form of an application that's well-designed and easy to use.


If your spreadsheet contains US currency (dollars), QuickBase correctly sets the field type to Currency.  However, if your spreadsheet contains non-US currency, QuickBase sets the field type to Numeric. You can change the field type to Currency when previewing the import. Choose the appropriate symbol on the field properties page for that field.

Related Topics


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