I am trying to put a simple table of text (excel) into my layout and preserve cell formatting including alignment, borders and text sharpness. I've tried many approaches but nothing so far is satisfactory.

I am using ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop.

  • 1
    You say you have tried many approaches so far. Could you outline them so we have a better idea of your thought processes so far?
    – sgrieve
    Oct 18, 2012 at 7:54
  • FYI - In addition I've had some issues with exporting a PDF from ArcMap using tables that contain "rare" or unusual font styles. Seemingly random cells will have the characters ran together, or a ?, or some other symbol substituting for part or all of a word or number sequence. Solution: Use something common like Times New Roman or Arial.
    – user23715
    Nov 7, 2013 at 0:27
  • I like the insert object way as you can link the table, but when I insert my object from file (which is an excel table), I am always missing some columns at the end of my table. Is this a formatting issue in Excel or a setting while I insert my object?
    – GV Le P
    Nov 20, 2018 at 17:33

4 Answers 4


I discovered the solution to this by accident a couple of weeks ago. It's so simple it's almost too good to be true:

Select the formatted cells of interest in Excel, Copy, then Paste into an active Arcmap Layout dataframe. Size and place to suit. Done.

To ensure you don't get any jpeg jaggies use the same font size in Excel as you would in Arcmap if it were directly placed text from the Drawing toolbar. The table on this map was formatted entirely in Excel, using data-driven conditional formatting, detail below:

table formatted with coloured background rows and symbol fonts

Limitations: The table is just a dumb graphic. If you see a spelling mistake or need to udpate it for next year you'll need to repeat everything (but that's the same for the native Arcmap embedded tables). To make repeated updates easier, export rather than copy the table (saving results in a model for quick repeat), and use saved styles and formatting rules everywhere possible in Excel.

I'm using ArcMap 10.1 and Excel 2010. It'd be interesting to hear if this a version specific thing or this has been around for awhile (and does this only work with MS Office?).

  • 1
    After copying the formatted cells you can also go to the Edit menu in ArcMap and select 'Paste Special...' to choose the format, though .emf is the default and usually the best quality.
    – AlmaThom
    Jun 3, 2013 at 18:33
  • Thanks @almathom, I didn't know that. This means it might be possible, with hackery, to be able to actually edit the embedded graphic since EMF consists of vectors, bitmaps and real text. It also explains why the quality on resizing the graphics are better than I expected. Jun 3, 2013 at 19:44

You can also insert the excel table directly into arcmap by clicking Insert->Object -> then you simply browse to your excel file.

enter image description here


There is Online Help for Adding a table to a layout that you should refer to.

There's also quite a bit on getting the Appearance of the Table right, which you need to do before adding it to the layout, on the help for Understanding field properties, aliases, and table display options.

  • I have tried printing to PDF from Excel, saving as a jpeg from excel, bring the excel table in as a layer and adding the table to the layout, screen capturing and pasting. I've tried others things too, at this point I don't remember them all... I ended up making a table out of text boxes in layout view - pretty pathetic but it worked better than anything else.
    – John Bean
    Oct 26, 2012 at 19:37

I was able to get around this issue by copying and pasting the excel spread sheet cells as a picture in a word document, which I then inserted as an object into my mxd. The colored cells all retained their color after exporting to a pdf.

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