I am using Arcmap 10.2 on Windows 7

I joined a shapefile with an Excel file, and the attributes are shown as until I start an edit session. Then, the values are as they should be. They match up by verifying manually the attribute table and the Excel file. I clicked "Save edit" and then ended the edit session, at which point the attributes went back to .

Why is it doing that? How can I fix it?

  • What type of field(s) Did you explicitly format the field type in Excel?
    – user681
    Jul 17, 2014 at 20:03
  • I did not format the field types in Excel. The joined data has both numerical and text fields, and the problem occurs in both types.
    – user64742
    Jul 17, 2014 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


This tool has saved my life many times when working with excel data, or converting excel data in ArcGIS. The tool is called, Table to Table This tool allows you to format each field before you import - so that you can verify everything is correct (ex. text is text, and date as date).

I've found ArcGIS works funny with excel, and it's best to import excel into a dBase or dbf using the tool above.

  • It looks like your link got messed up - can you correct it when you get a chance?
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 17, 2014 at 21:43
  • Hi @giskid, you've hit the nail on the head, the key here is do NOT join to Excel or CSV as the field types are fuzzy. If you have Microsoft Access (or the Open Office equivalent) then I recommend importing into pGDB format using that program. First create a personal geodatabase then import the table - this will allow you to implicitly set the field types on import. After import you should have no problems with the join. Jul 17, 2014 at 22:06
  • Fixed the link. This tool is a godsend for me, I use it almost daily.
    – GISHuman
    Jul 21, 2014 at 13:45

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