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I have an excel file containing data collected over many years as latitude and longitude coordinates for archaeological sites - how can I import it into QGIS as a new layer?

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how did you go? Maybe you will accept one of the answers below. –  Willy Nov 25 '12 at 10:50
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3 Answers

If you already have your data in excel make sure of the following a)Data must be in decimal degrees b)First row of the file has the name of the field (this is just an example) enter image description here

then you have to save the file as a csv comma delimited (not msdos or mac). After opening Qgis you have to look for the "add delimited text layer plugin (a blue postit with commas icon). enter image description here

You have to define that the delimiter is commas and choose the appropiate x and y fileds. When Qgis Opens the data it will ask for the CRS, you have to define the one for your data. The data you are looking in the image is latlon wgs 84, so I choosed EPSG4326. Once your data is loaded you can save the text layer to another type of file like shp. Hope it helps

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Improve your answer by adding @Radar note on CRS. As you may be aware, the delim txt import should ask for the CRS. –  Willy Nov 25 '12 at 10:49
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You can control your tabular data with XYtools plugin.

The aim of the xy-tools-plugin is to fill an x- and y-column of a given attribute table by clicking on a (reference) map. After 'filling the x and y column' you are able to export the table to a point shape file. Since version 0.2 you can also open Excel files, and using an x- and y-column load it as a Point layer.

i hope it helps you...

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This excellent tutorial explains how to do just that.

Note that if your data is in UTM:

You can follow the same process, but choose the appropriate UTM CRS in the Coordinate Reference System Selector instead of WGS84.

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I think it would be best if you can post an outline or a summary of the tutorial you linked. Your answer is great but it would be useless if the blog you linked to suddenly went offline. –  R.K. Dec 3 '12 at 4:12
    
And also this doesn't answer the question very well - the question was about Excel files –  Tomas Jul 5 '13 at 11:33
    
I would argue that a CSV created in Excel is as much an 'Excel file' as a file with a .xls extension as they can be converted to and from each format using Excel. If you want to be really picky the intermediate step would be conversion of the .xls file to CSV using Excel. –  Radar Jul 5 '13 at 15:47
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