I am currently processing GPS log data from my holiday and need to add information to the points. I remember I used OpenOffice and later LibreOffice to directly edit the files but currently I am really upset because I always get a tiny DBF + huge DBT file instead of only one DBF. QGIS is then not able to load the shapefile correctly.

Tried various software but no success. Even old OpenOffice 2.4 which I currently downloaded and ran using Wine does the same problem. Gnumeric is not able to save the table, Sdbf probably does not support UTF-8.

My reason for manual attribute editing is that I cannot comfortably edit them in QGIS - it was much easier for example to mark beginning and ending point and than copy the attributes in spreadsheet.

Have no idea why it is not possible yet. Tried win machine with newest LibreOffice and unfortunately the same problem. Any ideas?

  • 1
    If you haven't got MS office available to you at least tell us.
    – Stevetech
    Mar 18, 2014 at 18:08
  • This is a free dbf editer, supports memo data, Windows OS. alexnolan.net/software/dbf.htm
    – klewis
    Mar 18, 2014 at 18:46

4 Answers 4


I always keep a Portable OpenOffice Calc (or Libre Office Calc) for editing DBF files. Here's a link (I haven't tried): http://portableapps.com/de/apps/office/openoffice_portable

It is possible to directly edit a dbf file using this approach - even if the GIS file is open in another program (such as ArcGIS). To refresh the table in GIS Software, just disable & enable the layer/table-view after editing the dbf in Portable OpenOffice Calc. Make sure to keep the format when saving the dbf. So far, I have not experienced any problematic issues with this approach (such as corrupted files).


I recommend never editing a shapefile's dbf outside a GIS software, you could risk damaging your GIS file (for example if you delete a line in the dbf).

Keep a column with a unique id number in the shapefile and export all the other columns plus a copy of the one with the ID in a table format like dbf, csv, or others QGIS can read. You could even put the table in a database (ex: PostGIS) for example, should you want to do some heavy querying.

As a result, you will always keep a clean shapefile with its ID contained dbf and apart another dbf, or csv or any table file with it's identical unique ID to edit the data in whatever software you prefer.

When you go back to QGIS (or with other GIS software), just perform a Table Join of your imported table with the shapefile using the unique ID field (see here for an example)


As you have now informed us you don't have access to MS office try


This runs on multiple platforms and is free so should do what you want.


I remember Microsoft Excel always used to open and save Dbf files and this question seems to indicate it still does.

How do I edit a shapefile DBF to repair an extra row?

  • I do not have MS Office - I used OOo and later LO. No idea why it does not work anymore... And as I know the DBF saving support was dropped - maybe from 2007?
    – Juhele
    Mar 17, 2014 at 21:30
  • 3
    Just confirming Juhele's remark that the ability to save DBF has disappeared from Excel(though I thought 2010 was the first version that lost this). You could always open the dbf in Excel, edit, save as csv, and use gdal_translate to convert csv to dbf.
    – Llaves
    Mar 17, 2014 at 21:55
  • Given that I am still using Office 2003 that would explain it.
    – Stevetech
    Mar 18, 2014 at 18:05

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