Frequently Asked Questions

The section outlines some answers to frequently asked questions.

Q. Can XlsxWriter use an existing Excel file as a template?

No.

XlsxWriter is designed only as a file writer. It cannot read or modify an existing Excel file.

Q. Why do my formulas show a zero result in some, non-Excel applications?

Due to a wide range of possible formulas and the interdependencies between them XlsxWriter doesn’t, and realistically cannot, calculate the result of a formula when it is written to an XLSX file. Instead, it stores the value 0 as the formula result. It then sets a global flag in the XLSX file to say that all formulas and functions should be recalculated when the file is opened.

This is the method recommended in the Excel documentation and in general it works fine with spreadsheet applications. However, applications that don’t have a facility to calculate formulas, such as Excel Viewer, or several mobile applications, will only display the 0 results.

If required, it is also possible to specify the calculated result of the formula using the optional value parameter in write_formula():

worksheet.write_formula('A1', '=2+2', None, 4)

See also Formula Results.

Note: LibreOffice doesn’t recalculate Excel formulas that reference other cells by default, in which case you will get the default XlsxWriter value of 0. You can work around this by setting the “LibreOffice Preferences -> LibreOffice Calc -> Formula -> Recalculation on File Load” option to “Always recalculate” (see the LibreOffice documentation). Or, you can set a blank result in the formula, which will also force recalculation:

worksheet.write_formula('A1', '=Sheet1!$A$1', None, '')

Q. Why do my formulas have a @ in them?

Microsoft refers to the @ in formulas as the Implicit Intersection Operator. It indicates that an input range is being reduced from multiple values to a single value. In some cases it is just a warning indicator and doesn’t affect the calculation or result. However, in practical terms it generally means that your formula should be written as an array formula using either write_array_formula() or write_dynamic_array_formula().

For more details see the Dynamic Array support and Dynamic Arrays - The Implicit Intersection Operator “@” sections of the XlsxWriter documentation.

Q. Can I apply a format to a range of cells in one go?

Currently no. However, it is a planned features to allow cell formats and data to be written separately.

Q. Is feature X supported or will it be supported?

All supported features are documented. Future features are on the Roadmap.

Q. Is there an “AutoFit” option for columns?

Unfortunately, there is no way to specify “AutoFit” for a column in the Excel file format. This feature is only available at runtime from within Excel. It is possible to simulate “AutoFit” in your application by tracking the maximum width of the data in the column as your write it and then adjusting the column width at the end.

Q. Can I password protect an XlsxWriter xlsx file

Although it is possible to password protect a worksheet using the Worksheet protect() method it isn’t possible to password protect the entire workbook/file using XlsxWriter.

The reason for this is that a protected/encrypted xlsx file is in a different format from an ordinary xlsx file. This would require a lot of additional work, and testing, and isn’t something that is on the XlsxWriter roadmap.

However, it is possible to password protect an XlsxWriter generated file using a third party open source tool called msoffice-crypt. This works for macOS, Linux and Windows:

msoffice-crypt.exe -e -p password clear.xlsx encrypted.xlsx

Q. Do people actually ask these questions frequently, or at all?

Apart from this question, yes.