1113 Votes

XLS and XLSX: Maximum Number of Columns and Rows

Info by Stefan Trost | Last update on 2024-04-04 | Created on 2018-01-19

The maximum number of possible columns and rows in Microsoft Excel is not unlimited. Instead, the limit differs from program version to program version and is moreover depending on whether the file format is XLSX or XLS.

Here is a table of all previous versions and formats of Excel as well as the maximum number of rows and columns allowed for the corresponding version and format.

VersionFormatMax. RowsMax. Columns
Excel 365XLSX1.048.57616.384 (XFD)
Excel 2021XLSX1.048.57616.384 (XFD)
Excel 2019XLSX1.048.57616.384 (XFD)
Excel 2016 (16.0)XLSX1.048.57616.384 (XFD)
Excel 2013 (15.0)XLSX1.048.57616.384 (XFD)
Excel 2010 (14.0)XLSX1.048.57616.384 (XFD)
Excel 2007 (12.0)XLSX1.048.57616.384 (XFD)
Excel 2003 (11.0)XLS65.536256 (IV)
Excel 2002 (10.0)XLS65.536256 (IV)
Excel 2000 (9.0)XLS65.536256 (IV)
Excel 97 (8.0)XLS65.536256 (IV)
Excel 95 (7.0)XLS16.384256 (IV)
Excel 5.0 (1993)XLS16.384256 (IV)
Excel 4.0 (1992)XLS16.384256 (IV)
Excel 3.0 (1990)XLS16.384256 (IV)
Excel 2.0 (1987)XLS16.384256 (IV)
Excel 1.0 (1985)XLS16.384256 (IV)

Limits of the first Excel Versions using the XLS Format

In the first versions of Excel from 1985 on, only 16,384 lines and 256 columns were allowed using the newly introduced XLS format. This made it possible to use the columns from column A to column IV. The last usable field in the lower right corner was accordingly the field IV16384. With this, a maximum of 4,341,760 cells of the XLS sheet could be used in the Excel versions from 1.0 to 7.0.

Starting with Excel 97 (version 8.0), the maximum number of lines for the XLS format was increased to 65,536, the maximum number of columns remained unchanged. So, a maximum of 16,777,216 cells are usable in an XLS sheet.

Increase through the Introduction of the XLSX Format

Not until ten years later with Excel 2007 (version 12.0) and the introduction of the XML-based XLSX format, there was a further increase in the number of permitted fields. From this time on, 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns (that is from column A to the XFD column) were possible. Til today, this number has not been increased again. Overall, a current Excel spreadsheet can therefore comprise 17,179,869,184 cells. Incidentally, this increase only applies to the XLSX format. If you use a current version of Excel to store a sheet in the old XLS format, the limit of 65,536 lines and 256 columns introduced with Excel 97 is there still today. If you nevertheless try to save a spreadsheet that exceeds this range in XLS format, Excel will issue an error message and not save the corresponding field(s).

Since Excel 2016 up to the current Excel 365 offered in a subscription model, Microsoft has not only kept the same number of supported rows and columns, but has also frozen the version number on 16, since instead of discrete versions, there should be continuously new features rolled out via the Windows update in future. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft someday will give us more columns or more rows via this update again.

57 Votes

There's an easy way to determine the maximum number of lines your Excel version supports:

  1. Just open an empty file
  2. Click into the field A1
  3. Press the keys CTRL + Down Arrow

Excel then jumps to the very last possible line. For XLSX format this should be the line 1048576.

If you use OpenOffice or LibreOffice, you have to use a different key combination: CTRL + Shift + Down Arrow Key.
2018-01-20 at 17:03

ReplyPositive Negative
11 Vote

Perhaps a little note on the topic from the category of unnecessary factual knowledge:

If a number is entered in each possible field, a Microsoft Office 2003 XLS file has a size of 227 MB. If you do the same for all cells in XLSX format as of Office 2007, the file will have 1.35 GB (1382 MB).
2018-01-23 at 13:38

ReplyPositive Negative

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