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Reading Excel with Python (xlrd)

Every 6-8 months, when I need to use the python xlrd library, I end up re-finding this page:

In this case, I’ve finally bookmarked it:)

from __future__ import print_function
from os.path import join, dirname, abspath
import xlrd

fname = join(dirname(dirname(abspath(__file__))), 'test_data', 'Cad Data Mar 2014.xlsx')

# Open the workbook
xl_workbook = xlrd.open_workbook(fname)

# List sheet names, and pull a sheet by name
sheet_names = xl_workbook.sheet_names()
print('Sheet Names', sheet_names)

xl_sheet = xl_workbook.sheet_by_name(sheet_names[0])

# Or grab the first sheet by index 
#  (sheets are zero-indexed)
xl_sheet = xl_workbook.sheet_by_index(0)
print ('Sheet name: %s' %

# Pull the first row by index
#  (rows/columns are also zero-indexed)
row = xl_sheet.row(0)  # 1st row

# Print 1st row values and types
from xlrd.sheet import ctype_text   

print('(Column #) type:value')
for idx, cell_obj in enumerate(row):
    cell_type_str = ctype_text.get(cell_obj.ctype, 'unknown type')
    print('(%s) %s %s' % (idx, cell_type_str, cell_obj.value))

# Print all values, iterating through rows and columns
num_cols = xl_sheet.ncols   # Number of columns
for row_idx in range(0, xl_sheet.nrows):    # Iterate through rows
    print ('-'*40)
    print ('Row: %s' % row_idx)   # Print row number
    for col_idx in range(0, num_cols):  # Iterate through columns
        cell_obj = xl_sheet.cell(row_idx, col_idx)  # Get cell object by row, col
        print ('Column: [%s] cell_obj: [%s]' % (col_idx, cell_obj))

Interact and pull data from a selected column. (This could be done with 1/5 of the code in pandas, etc.)

Code example

from __future__ import print_function
from os.path import join, dirname, abspath, isfile
from collections import Counter
import xlrd
from xlrd.sheet import ctype_text   

def get_excel_sheet_object(fname, idx=0):
    if not isfile(fname):
        print ('File doesn't exist: ', fname)

    # Open the workbook and 1st sheet
    xl_workbook = xlrd.open_workbook(fname)
    xl_sheet = xl_workbook.sheet_by_index(0)
    print (40 * '-' + 'nRetrieved worksheet: %s' %

    return xl_sheet

def show_column_names(xl_sheet):
    row = xl_sheet.row(0)  # 1st row
    print(60*'-' + 'n(Column #) value [type]n' + 60*'-')
    for idx, cell_obj in enumerate(row):
        cell_type_str = ctype_text.get(cell_obj.ctype, 'unknown type')
        print('(%s) %s [%s]' % (idx, cell_obj.value, cell_type_str, ))

def get_column_stats(xl_sheet, col_idx):
    :param xl_sheet:  Sheet object from Excel Workbook, extracted using xlrd
    :param col_idx: zero-indexed int indicating a column in the Excel workbook
    if xl_sheet is None:
        print ('xl_sheet is None')

    if not col_idx.isdigit():
        print ('Please enter a valid column number (0-%d)' % (xl_sheet.ncols-1))

    col_idx = int(col_idx)
    if col_idx < 0 or col_idx >= xl_sheet.ncols:
        print ('Please enter a valid column number (0-%d)' % (xl_sheet.ncols-1))

    # Iterate through rows, and print out the column values
    row_vals = []
    for row_idx in range(0, xl_sheet.nrows):
        cell_obj = xl_sheet.cell(row_idx, col_idx)
        cell_type_str = ctype_text.get(cell_obj.ctype, 'unknown type')
        print ('(row %s) %s (type:%s)' % (row_idx, cell_obj.value, cell_type_str))

    # Retrieve non-empty rows
    nonempty_row_vals = [x for x in row_vals if x]    
    num_rows_missing_vals = xl_sheet.nrows - len(nonempty_row_vals)
    print ('Vals: %d; Rows Missing Vals: %d' % (len(nonempty_row_vals), num_rows_missing_vals))

    # Count occurrences of values 
    counts = Counter(nonempty_row_vals)

    # Display value counts
    print ('-'*40 + 'n', 'Top Twenty Values', 'n' + '-'*40 )
    print ('Value [count]')
    for val, cnt in counts.most_common(20):
        print ('%s [%s]' % (val, cnt))

def column_picker(xl_sheet):
        input = raw_input
    except NameError:

    while True:
        col_idx = input("nPlease enter a column number between 0 and %d (or 'x' to Exit): " % (xl_sheet.ncols-1))
        if col_idx == 'x': 
        get_column_stats(xl_sheet, col_idx)

if __name__=='__main__':
    excel_crime_data = join(dirname(dirname(abspath(__file__))), 'test_data', 'Cad Data Mar 2014.xlsx')
    xl_sheet = get_excel_sheet_object(excel_crime_data)

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Notes while working in a large academic organization.