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The readxl package makes it easy to get data out of Excel and into R. Compared to many of the existing packages (e.g. gdata, xlsx, xlsReadWrite) readxl has no external dependencies so it's easy to install and use on all operating systems. It is designed to work with tabular data stored in a single sheet.

Readxl supports both the legacy .xls format and the modern xml-based .xlsx format. .xls support is made possible the with libxls C library, which abstracts away many of the complexities of the underlying binary format. To parse .xlsx, we use the RapidXML C++ library.


You can install:

# install.packages("devtools")



# read_excel reads both xls and xlsx files

# Specify sheet with a number or name
read_excel("my-spreadsheet.xls", sheet = "data")
read_excel("my-spreadsheet.xls", sheet = 2)

# If NAs are represented by something other than blank cells,
# set the na argument
read_excel("my-spreadsheet.xls", na = "NA")


Example data

The package includes an example file created with openxlsx:

l <- list("iris" = iris, "mtcars" = mtcars, chickwts = chickwts, quakes = quakes)
openxlsx::write.xlsx(l, file = "inst/extdata/datasets.xlsx")