I have successfully joined a .xls Excel spreadsheet to a shapefile. The join is successful (the number of remaining records seems accurate), although it takes a really long time (like 20 minutes). For reference it's a shapefile of 140,000 parcels and a .xls containing about 18,000 unique records.

When I go to export this newly joined layer so that it is a permanent layer (Data -> Export Data), it works almost immediately and asks me if I want to add the new layer to my map. When I do however, there are 0 records in this new shapefile, but the shapefile has been created and shows up in my computer and in the TOC. There is just no information in it.

The .xls has no spaces/special characters in the column names. Can you think of anything else that may cause this undesired result?

  • 1
    When you ran the join did you can click on the Validate Join button and see a list of potential problems? Just having a problem doesn't mean the join won't work, but when it fails it may suggest a place to focus on.
    – John
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 16:57
  • I didn't validate the join because after trying to just do the join once and seeing that it took forever, I didn't want to risk freezing my session by validating. By using a .dbf for the join it now works and when I validated it it all looked fine, so thank you! Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 12:16

2 Answers 2


I have problems with Excel all the time, hate it!

  1. Convert your Excel file into a table (dbf or geodatabase table)
  2. Now check that table looks OK, right number of rows/correct field names
  3. Do your join with this new table and export that.

Did you try to export your .xls file to dBase Table then join and export. This should work by my experience.


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