Open XML Spreadsheet in Excel

I was at my Business Agent’s office the other day and she was emailed a file, which she could not open after saving to her desktop.

The file in question contained spreadsheet information so she was double clicking on the file, thinking it would open up in Microsoft Excel but, it would not open.

She was on the phone with the sender, trying to resolve the problem.

I happened to see that the file had an .xml extension and when she hovered over the file name, the file properties showed it as being an “XML Spreadsheet”. These clues told me that the file had been sent in an XML (EXtensible Markup Language) format, not Microsoft Excel.

I told her to:

  • Open her Excel applications.
  • Go to the File menu.
  • Select Open from the drop down menu.
  • Navigate to the file on her desktop that needed to be opened.
  • Select the file (Change the File Type to All Files, if necessary).
  • Click Open.

This opened the file in Excel and she was able to access the information. I say that she was able to access the information because the XML file only contains the information with minimal set up; she ended up having to go in and setting up the header, footer, repeating row, etc. to manipulate the information.

This worked because she had Excel 2003. From what I have found Microsoft Office 2003 and above includes XML reading capabilities. OpenOffice is also capable of reading XML files.

XML is a much more involved subject than can be handled in a blog like this. Also, I am just now reading about XML and doing a little experimentation on utilizing it.

From what little I have read about XML and its implementation, XML will be more prevelant in the very near future, as the information needs to be written only once and then can be presented in many different ways very easily. For an overview of XML check out this information at the Wikipedia site: Extensible Markup Language.

Manual Line Breaks

This tip applies to MS Word 97 and above, it is possible it works in earlier editions but, I have no experience with them. This should also work in just about any word processor, but you will have to check for yourself.

When you get to the end of a line of text, you can start a new paragraph by pressing the Shift and Enter keys simultaneously. This will insert a manual line break.

The use of a manual line break comes in very handy when dealing with numbered lists. When you want to start a new paragraph in a numbered list without getting a new line number, use the manual break.

Another place to use the manual break, rather than start a new paragraph, is in any place set up as a “hanging” paragraph, such as cc: lines and references.

Try using the manual line break. Once you get used to it, you will find yourself using it frequently.

Let me know if there are any more applications of the manual break that help you in your word processing.

Displaying and Printing Microsoft Word Paragraph Styles

While fooling around in Microsoft Word 2003 to work up something for the Broward Personal Computer Association, Inc. (BPCA) Word Processing Special Interest Group (SIG), I ran across how to display paragraph styles and how to print a listing of paragraph styles with their formatting.


First lets deal with displaying the paragraph styles. Displaying the paragraph styles is only available in Normal view, as far as I can tell. I did try the other layouts. If anyone knows of a way to do the same in the other layouts, please let me know.

  • Open the Word Document you are interested in.


  • Select Normal, from the View menu.



  • Choose Options, from the Tools menu and select the View tab.



  • Locate the Style area width box (it should be near the bottom of the tab).



  • Set the width to 1.0″. (either click on the box arrow until you get to 1.0″, or type 1.0″ in the box directly).


Result Sample


  • If the width set, by following the above, is too large or too small when you are viewing the paragraph styles, it can be adjusted by clicking and dragging the line that separates the style name from the text of the document.



Sometimes it is useful to print out the paragraph styles and their formatting. I frequently do this when I am trying to set up a template for a project, so that I can consistently apply paragraph formatting throughout the document.

Typically, I use very few styles but, the styles I do use are used consistently.

You can print out a list of the styles used in a doument by selecting Styles in the Print What section of the Print Dialog Box:

Print What

In my opinion, the use of styles is very important. Styles promote consistency and make documents much easier to edit.

More on using Styles to follow in future postings.