I've imported an Excel sheet into my ArcGIS project but am unable to convert this to a ShapeFile. When I try, via export data, I get an error message saying either 'output name is not valid', whatever I set the name as, or that it simply cannot save the file.

Any ideas on where I am going wrong?

  • Try using the default name from the export dialogue, then rename. Any issues? – Maksim Oct 8 '14 at 17:08
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    Hmmm. My default path and name is C:\Users\melita\Documents\ArcGIS\Default.gdb\Export_Output. Did you try to add .shp to this? If so, won't work because of the file gdb name in the path. Can you double check that you have write permissions to the folder you want to use? – mkennedy Oct 8 '14 at 17:33
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    A few things to try: Don't start the output name with a number, limit the output name to less than 8 characters, make sure you're including .shp at the end (if generating a shapefile), and try to avoid any directory path which includes spaces. Each of these can cause problems with various Arc operations. – Erica Oct 8 '14 at 17:51
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    Do you have a coordinate system defined for the XY layer you created? Have you tried restarting ArcMap and bringing your Excel file in again? – Sara Barnes Oct 8 '14 at 17:53
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    At this point, OP should do a series of screen caps to document the entire workflow so we can see where this might be going wrong. – detroit_hc Oct 8 '14 at 18:33

when you are at the step of exporting, look at the bottom of the dialogue box and make sure the type is set to shapefile, sometimes it defaults to dbf. Hope that helps.


If the Excel sheet contains point coordinates and you want to make a shp, you first need to create an event layer. File, Add Data, Add XY data. Then you can go to Data, Export Data to create your shp.

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  • I've done all of that but it still won't let me create a ShapeFile. – MikeFallopian Oct 8 '14 at 17:11
  • right click on your excel file, and choose Display X/Y Data, then export. Does this work? – Maksim Oct 8 '14 at 17:17
  • Done all that, but it still won't let me export! – MikeFallopian Oct 8 '14 at 17:41

The problem may not be in the output file name but in the Excel sheet field names, you need to have done some initial prep on the spreadsheet before importing it into Arc, see this article in the ArcUser Spring 2012 edition Importing Data from Excel Spreadsheets. This article also shows how to create the Geodatabase from the files.


See http://hilo.hawaii.edu/~sdalhelp/docs/ht_xls_to_shp.pdf A little dated but concepts are still valid. Typical issues are (1) no projection or coordinate system chosen, excel header formatted improperly, and or (3) starting out with a number as opposed to a letter for the shape file name.


Try to save as .dbf file your record sheet and then add to ArcGIS, and create Event layer.


I have this issue all the time. You need to make sure all the fields in the spreadsheet are formatted as "text".

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    Can you expand on this - explain how to set all fields as text so that it works – Midavalo Apr 8 '16 at 22:41

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