The Workbook Class

The Workbook class is the main class exposed by the XlsxWriter module and it is the only class that you will need to instantiate directly.

The Workbook class represents the entire spreadsheet as you see it in Excel and internally it represents the Excel file as it is written on disk.


Workbook(filename[, options])

Create a new XlsxWriter Workbook object.

  • filename (string) – The name of the new Excel file to create.
  • options (dict) – Optional workbook parameters. See below.
Return type:

A Workbook object.

The Workbook() constructor is used to create a new Excel workbook with a given filename:

import xlsxwriter

workbook  = xlsxwriter.Workbook('filename.xlsx')
worksheet = workbook.add_worksheet()

worksheet.write(0, 0, 'Hello Excel')


The constructor options are:

  • constant_memory: Reduces the amount of data stored in memory so that large files can be written efficiently:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'constant_memory': True})

    Note, in this mode a row of data is written and then discarded when a cell in a new row is added via one of the worksheet write_() methods. Therefore, once this mode is active, data should be written in sequential row order. For this reason the add_table() and merge_range() Worksheet methods don’t work in this mode.

    See Working with Memory and Performance for more details.

  • tmpdir: XlsxWriter stores workbook data in temporary files prior to assembling the final XLSX file. The temporary files are created in the system’s temp directory. If the default temporary directory isn’t accessible to your application, or doesn’t contain enough space, you can specify an alternative location using the tmpdir option:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'tmpdir': '/home/user/tmp'})

    The temporary directory must exist and will not be created.

  • in_memory: To avoid the use of temporary files in the assembly of the final XLSX file, for example on servers that don’t allow temp files, set the in_memory constructor option to True:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'in_memory': True})

    This option overrides the constant_memory option.


    This option used to be the recommended way of deploying XlsxWriter on Google APP Engine since it didn’t support a /tmp directory. However, the Python 3 Runtime Environment in Google App Engine supports a filesystem with read/write access to /tmp which means this option isn’t required.

  • strings_to_numbers: Enable the worksheet.write() method to convert strings to numbers, where possible, using float() in order to avoid an Excel warning about “Numbers Stored as Text”. The default is False. To enable this option use:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'strings_to_numbers': True})
  • strings_to_formulas: Enable the worksheet.write() method to convert strings to formulas. The default is True. To disable this option use:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'strings_to_formulas': False})
  • strings_to_urls: Enable the worksheet.write() method to convert strings to urls. The default is True. To disable this option use:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'strings_to_urls': False})
  • use_future_functions: Enable the use of newer Excel “future” functions without having to prefix them with with _xlfn.. The default is False. To enable this option use:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'use_future_functions': True})

    See also Formulas added in Excel 2010 and later.

  • max_url_length: Set the maximum length for hyperlinks in worksheets. The default is 2079 and the minimum is 255. Versions of Excel prior to Excel 2015 limited hyperlink links and anchor/locations to 255 characters each. Versions after that support urls up to 2079 characters. XlsxWriter versions >= 1.2.3 support the new longer limit by default. However, a lower or user defined limit can be set via the max_url_length option:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'max_url_length': 255})
  • nan_inf_to_errors: Enable the worksheet.write() and write_number() methods to convert nan, inf and -inf to Excel errors. Excel doesn’t handle NAN/INF as numbers so as a workaround they are mapped to formulas that yield the error codes #NUM! and #DIV/0!. The default is False. To enable this option use:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'nan_inf_to_errors': True})
  • default_date_format: This option is used to specify a default date format string for use with the worksheet.write_datetime() method when an explicit format isn’t given. See Working with Dates and Time for more details:

    xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'default_date_format': 'dd/mm/yy'})
  • remove_timezone: Excel doesn’t support timezones in datetimes/times so there isn’t any fail-safe way that XlsxWriter can map a Python timezone aware datetime into an Excel datetime in functions such as write_datetime(). As such the user should convert and remove the timezones in some way that makes sense according to their requirements. Alternatively the remove_timezone option can be used to strip the timezone from datetime values. The default is False. To enable this option use:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'remove_timezone': True})

    See also Timezone Handling in XlsxWriter.

  • use_zip64: Use ZIP64 extensions when writing the xlsx file zip container to allow files greater than 4 GB. This is the same as calling use_zip64() after creating the Workbook object. This constructor option is just syntactic sugar to make the use of the option more explicit. The following are equivalent:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'use_zip64': True})
    # Same as:
    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename)

    See the note about the Excel warning caused by using this option in use_zip64().

  • date_1904: Excel for Windows uses a default epoch of 1900 and Excel for Mac uses an epoch of 1904. However, Excel on either platform will convert automatically between one system and the other. XlsxWriter stores dates in the 1900 format by default. If you wish to change this you can use the date_1904 workbook option. This option is mainly for enhanced compatibility with Excel and in general isn’t required very often:

    workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(filename, {'date_1904': True})

When specifying a filename it is recommended that you use an .xlsx extension or Excel will generate a warning when opening the file.

The Workbook() method also works using the with context manager. In which case it doesn’t need an explicit close() statement:

with xlsxwriter.Workbook('hello_world.xlsx') as workbook:
    worksheet = workbook.add_worksheet()

    worksheet.write('A1', 'Hello world')

It is possible to write files to in-memory strings using BytesIO as follows:

from io import BytesIO

output = BytesIO()
workbook = xlsxwriter.Workbook(output)
worksheet = workbook.add_worksheet()

worksheet.write('A1', 'Hello')

xlsx_data = output.getvalue()

To avoid the use of any temporary files and keep the entire file in-memory use the in_memory constructor option shown above.

See also Example: Simple HTTP Server.



Add a new worksheet to a workbook.


name (string) – Optional worksheet name, defaults to Sheet1, etc.

Return type:

A worksheet object.


The add_worksheet() method adds a new worksheet to a workbook.

At least one worksheet should be added to a new workbook. The Worksheet object is used to write data and configure a worksheet in the workbook.

The name parameter is optional. If it is not specified, or blank, the default Excel convention will be followed, i.e. Sheet1, Sheet2, etc.:

worksheet1 = workbook.add_worksheet()           # Sheet1
worksheet2 = workbook.add_worksheet('Foglio2')  # Foglio2
worksheet3 = workbook.add_worksheet('Data')     # Data
worksheet4 = workbook.add_worksheet()           # Sheet4

The worksheet name must be a valid Excel worksheet name:

  • It must be less than 32 characters. This error will raise a InvalidWorksheetName exception.
  • It cannot contain any of the characters: [ ] : * ? / \. This error will raise a InvalidWorksheetName exception.
  • It cannot begin or end with an apostrophe. This error will raise a InvalidWorksheetName exception.
  • You cannot use the same, case insensitive, name for more than one worksheet. This error will raise a DuplicateWorksheetName exception.
  • You should not use the Excel reserved name “History”, or case insensitive variants as this is restricted in English, and other, versions of Excel.

The rules for worksheet names in Excel are explained in the Microsoft Office documentation on how to Rename a worksheet.



Create a new Format object to formats cells in worksheets.

Parameters:properties (dictionary) – An optional dictionary of format properties.
Return type:A format object.

The add_format() method can be used to create new Format objects which are used to apply formatting to a cell. You can either define the properties at creation time via a dictionary of property values or later via method calls:

format1 = workbook.add_format(props)  # Set properties at creation.
format2 = workbook.add_format()       # Set properties later.

See the The Format Class section for more details about Format properties and how to set them.



Create a chart object that can be added to a worksheet.

Parameters:options (dictionary) – An dictionary of chart type options.
Return type:A Chart object.

This method is use to create a new chart object that can be inserted into a worksheet via the insert_chart() Worksheet method:

chart = workbook.add_chart({'type': 'column'})

The properties that can be set are:

type    (required)
subtype (optional)
name    (optional)
  • type

    This is a required parameter. It defines the type of chart that will be created:

    chart = workbook.add_chart({'type': 'line'})

    The available types are:

  • subtype

    Used to define a chart subtype where available:

    workbook.add_chart({'type': 'bar', 'subtype': 'stacked'})

    See the The Chart Class for a list of available chart subtypes.

  • name

    Set the name for the chart sheet:

    chart = workbook.add_chart({'type': 'column', 'name': 'MyChart'})

    The name property is optional and if it isn’t supplied it will default to Chart1, Chart2, etc. The name must be a valid Excel chart name.


A chart can only be inserted into a worksheet once. If several similar charts are required then each one must be created separately with add_chart().

See also Working with Charts and Chart Examples.



Add a new add_chartsheet to a workbook.

Parameters:sheetname (string) – Optional chartsheet name, defaults to Chart1, etc.
Return type:A chartsheet object.

The add_chartsheet() method adds a new chartsheet to a workbook.


See The Chartsheet Class for details.

The sheetname parameter is optional. If it is not specified the default Excel convention will be followed, i.e. Chart1, Chart2, etc.

The chartsheet name must be a valid Excel worksheet name. See add_worksheet() for the limitation on Excel worksheet names.



Close the Workbook object and write the XLSX file.


The workbook close() method writes all data to the xlsx file and closes it:


This is a required method call to close and write the xlsxwriter file, unless you are using the with context manager, see below.

The Workbook object also works using the with context manager. In which case it doesn’t need an explicit close() statement:

With xlsxwriter.Workbook('hello_world.xlsx') as workbook:
    worksheet = workbook.add_worksheet()

    worksheet.write('A1', 'Hello world')

The workbook will close automatically when exiting the scope of the with statement.

The most common exception during close() is FileCreateError which is generally caused by a write permission error. On Windows this usually occurs if the file being created is already open in Excel. This exception can be caught in a try block where you can instruct the user to close the open file before overwriting it:

while True:
    except xlsxwriter.exceptions.FileCreateError as e:
        decision = input("Exception caught in workbook.close(): %s\n"
                         "Please close the file if it is open in Excel.\n"
                         "Try to write file again? [Y/n]: " % e)
        if decision != 'n':


The close() method can only write a file once. It doesn’t behave like a save method and it cannot be called multiple times to write a file at different stages. If it is called more than once it will raise a UserWarning in order to help avoid issues where a file is closed within a loop or at the wrong scope level.

See also Example: Catch exception on closing.


set_size(width, height)

Set the size of a workbook window.

  • width (int) – Width of the window in pixels.
  • height (int) – Height of the window in pixels.

The set_size() method can be used to set the size of a workbook window:

workbook.set_size(1200, 800)

The Excel window size was used in Excel 2007 to define the width and height of a workbook window within the Multiple Document Interface (MDI). In later versions of Excel for Windows this interface was dropped. This method is currently only useful when setting the window size in Excel for Mac 2011. The units are pixels and the default size is 1073 x 644.

Note, this doesn’t equate exactly to the Excel for Mac pixel size since it is based on the original Excel 2007 for Windows sizing. Some trial and error may be required to get an exact size.



Set the ratio between the worksheet tabs and the horizontal slider.

Parameters:tab_ratio (float) – The tab ratio between 0 and 100.

The set_tab_ratio() method can be used to set the ratio between worksheet tabs and the horizontal slider at the bottom of a workbook. This can be increased to give more room to the tabs or reduced to increase the size of the horizontal slider:


The default value in Excel is 60. It can be changed as follows:




Set the document properties such as Title, Author etc.

Parameters:properties (dict) – Dictionary of document properties.

The set_properties() method can be used to set the document properties of the Excel file created by XlsxWriter. These properties are visible when you use the Office Button -> Prepare -> Properties option in Excel and are also available to external applications that read or index windows files.

The properties that can be set are:

  • title
  • subject
  • author
  • manager
  • company
  • category
  • keywords
  • comments
  • status
  • hyperlink_base
  • created - the file creation date as a object.

The properties are all optional and should be passed in dictionary format as follows:

    'title':    'This is an example spreadsheet',
    'subject':  'With document properties',
    'author':   'John McNamara',
    'manager':  'Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz',
    'company':  'of Wolves',
    'category': 'Example spreadsheets',
    'keywords': 'Sample, Example, Properties',
    'created':, 1, 1),
    'comments': 'Created with Python and XlsxWriter'})

See also Example: Setting Document Properties.


set_custom_property(name, value[, property_type])

Set a custom document property.

  • name (string) – The name of the custom property.
  • value – The value of the custom property (various types).
  • property_type (string) – The type of the property. Optional.

The set_custom_property() method can be used to set one or more custom document properties not covered by the standard properties in the set_properties() method above.

For example:

date = datetime.strptime('2016-12-12', '%Y-%m-%d')

workbook.set_custom_property('Checked by',       'Eve')
workbook.set_custom_property('Date completed',   date)
workbook.set_custom_property('Document number',  12345)
workbook.set_custom_property('Reference number', 1.2345)
workbook.set_custom_property('Has review',       True)
workbook.set_custom_property('Signed off',       False)

Date parameters should be datetime.datetime objects.

The optional property_type parameter can be used to set an explicit type for the custom property, just like in Excel. The available types are:


However, in almost all cases the type will be inferred correctly from the Python type, like in the example above.

Note: the name and value parameters are limited to 255 characters by Excel.



Create a defined name in the workbook to use as a variable.

  • name (string) – The defined name.
  • formula (string) – The cell or range that the defined name refers to.

This method is used to defined a name that can be used to represent a value, a single cell or a range of cells in a workbook. These are sometimes referred to as a “Named Range”.

Defined names are generally used to simplify or clarify formulas by using descriptive variable names:

workbook.define_name('Exchange_rate', '=0.96')
worksheet.write('B3', '=B2*Exchange_rate')

As in Excel a name defined like this is “global” to the workbook and can be referred to from any worksheet:

# Global workbook name.
workbook.define_name('Sales', '=Sheet1!$G$1:$H$10')

It is also possible to define a local/worksheet name by prefixing it with the sheet name using the syntax 'sheetname!definedname':

# Local worksheet name.
workbook.define_name('Sheet2!Sales', '=Sheet2!$G$1:$G$10')

If the sheet name contains spaces or special characters you must follow the Excel convention and enclose it in single quotes:

workbook.define_name("'New Data'!Sales", '=Sheet2!$G$1:$G$10')

The rules for names in Excel are explained in the Microsoft Office documentation on how to Define and use names in formulas.

See also Example: Defined names/Named ranges.


add_vba_project(vba_project[, is_stream])

Add a vbaProject binary to the Excel workbook.

  • vba_project – The vbaProject binary file name.
  • is_stream (bool) – The vba_project is an in memory byte stream.

The add_vba_project() method can be used to add macros or functions to a workbook using a binary VBA project file that has been extracted from an existing Excel xlsm file:


Only one vbaProject.bin file can be added per workbook.

The is_stream parameter is used to indicate that vba_project refers to a BytesIO byte stream rather than a physical file. This can be used when working with the workbook in_memory mode.

See Working with VBA Macros for more details.



Set the VBA name for the workbook.

Parameters:name (string) – The VBA name for the workbook.

The set_vba_name() method can be used to set the VBA codename for the workbook. This is sometimes required when a vbaProject macro included via add_vba_project() refers to the workbook. The default Excel VBA name of ThisWorkbook is used if a user defined name isn’t specified.

See Working with VBA Macros for more details.



Return a list of the worksheet objects in the workbook.

Return type:A list of worksheet objects.

The worksheets() method returns a list of the worksheets in a workbook. This is useful if you want to repeat an operation on each worksheet in a workbook:

for worksheet in workbook.worksheets():
    worksheet.write('A1', 'Hello')



Return a worksheet object in the workbook using the sheetname.

Parameters:name (string) – Name of worksheet that you wish to retrieve.
Return type:A worksheet object.

The get_worksheet_by_name() method returns the worksheet or chartsheet object with the given name or None if it isn’t found:

worksheet = workbook.get_worksheet_by_name('Sheet1')



Return a format object.

Return type:A format object.

The get_default_url_format() method gets a copy of the default url format used when a user defined format isn’t specified with write_url(). The format is the hyperlink style defined by Excel for the default theme:

url_format = workbook.get_default_url_format()



Set the Excel calculation mode for the workbook.

Parameters:mode (string) – The calculation mode string

Set the calculation mode for formulas in the workbook. This is mainly of use for workbooks with slow formulas where you want to allow the user to calculate them manually.

The mode parameter can be:

  • auto: The default. Excel will re-calculate formulas when a formula or a value affecting the formula changes.
  • manual: Only re-calculate formulas when the user requires it. Generally by pressing F9.
  • auto_except_tables: Excel will automatically re-calculate formulas except for tables.



Allow ZIP64 extensions when writing the xlsx file zip container.

Use ZIP64 extensions when writing the xlsx file zip container to allow files greater than 4 GB.


When using the use_zip64() option the zip file created by the Python standard library may cause Excel to issue a warning about repairing the file. This warning is annoying but harmless. The “repaired” file will contain all of the data written by XlsxWriter, only the zip container will be changed.