I have datasets in a File GDB Feature Class and an Excel table. I want to join them on a field named JOINFIELD. I have the same field name in the FC & in the top line of a column in the Excel sheet. When I am choosing the fields for the join I see the one in the FC, then I select the Excel file to join to it but the drop down menu does not show my JOINFIELD from the excel file, so I can not join on it.

If I do the reverse, bring the Excel table into ArcMap and try to join to the spatial FC I do see the JOINFIELD in the Excel table join options but once I point to the FC to join to the JOINFIELD does not appear in the drop down menu of fields to join on from the FC, even though I know it is there.

I have tried changing the Excel file to .csv but no change.

The values in the JOINFIELD are numeric and I have confirmed they are identical in both the FC and the Excel table. There is only 4 records so it should have little problem joining.

Why do the fields not show for joining?

  • Are you sure there are no spaces in the file name or sheet name, or in the field name? Per ESRI: "The name of the .xls file and the name of the worksheet must not have spaces or special characters other than underscores, and must not begin with a number." support.esri.com/en/technical-article/000008903
    – Keggering
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 21:46
  • 1
    When push comes to shove, Excel is not a database format, nor is CSV. If you load the data into a FGDB table, you'll have far more control when it comes time to do a join.
    – Vince
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 3:34
  • No spaces in the worksheet or field names but there was a space in the file name, however the problem went away when I re-created the whole sheet from scratch and still had a space in the name but the join worked as expected. Go figure.
    – forestGIS
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


Join fields have to be the same basic data type (text vs. number). In a table read in from Excel that is wildly uncertain depending on the contents of the column. It's safer to convert it to a real database table.

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