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Excel – a history of rows and columns

How many rows and columns does Excel have?

by Office Watch

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All the talk about 64-bit versions of Office has raised the issue of maximum rows and columns in Excel.

A few readers seem to believe that 64-bit Excel will have more rows or columns than the 32-bit version. While that might be theoretically possible, it’s not true.

The maximum rows/columns in Excel is limited by the version of the product, not it’s ‘bitness’.

Having larger worksheet sizes just for 64-bit Excel would cause all sorts of document compatibility issues. Microsoft rightly wants their documents accessible to all copies of that application and version – regardless of whether it is 32-bit and 64-bit.

The reader messages made it clear that it’s still commonly believed that Excel is limited to 65,536 rows when Excel 2007 (32-bit) increased that to 1,048,576 rows.

Max. Rows

Max. Columns

Max Columns by letter

Excel 2010

1,048,576

16,384

XFD

Excel 2007

1,048,576

16,384

XFD

Excel 2003

65,536

256

IV

Excel 2002 (XP)

65,536

256

IV

Excel 2000

65,536

256

IV

Excel 97

65,536

256

IV

Excel 95

16,384

256

IV

Excel 5

16,384

256

IV

 

Excel 2007/2010 will show the Excel 2003 limits (65,536 x 256) when opening a .xls document.  To get larger worksheets, save the document to the Excel 2007 .docx format.

The number of worksheets in a single document/spreadsheet is another constraint. Excel 2007/2010 can theoretically handle 255 worksheets in a single document; however the practical limit is memory. The amount of memory available to Excel depends on both the operating system and version of Excel.

Excel 64-bit can access considerably more RAM and thus can deal with more worksheets at the same time. Excel 2010 and Excel 2007 32-bit versions have an upper memory limit of 2GB though other limitations may kick-in before you reach that. Excel 2010 64-bit can theoretically access 8 TERAbytes of memory, a 4,000 fold increase.

Article posted: Friday, 09 April 2010

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