Importing an Excel Worksheet into sas

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Importing an Excel Worksheet into SAS

Preparing Data for a Statistics Package: From Excel

How to Set up the Excel File:

Place the variable names in the first row. Be sure the names follow these rules:

    • variable names can be no more than 8 characters long

    • variable names must start with a letter

    • variable names may only have letters, numbers, or underscores in them

    • do not use following characters in variable names: %,$,#,@,!,+,*,~,",.,-,.

    • no blanks in variable names

    • be sure that each variable name is unique (no duplicate variable names)

    • be sure variable names are on the first row only!

Only include the raw, un-summarized data. Delete extraneous data in your Excel file, like row or column totals, graphs, comments, annotations, etc. To prevent "ghost" rows and columns, copy only the raw data onto a new worksheet, and save from there.

Include a unique identifying number for each case. Sometimes you may have more than one identifier, such as Household ID and Subject ID; place these in separate columns. If you have several spreadsheets containing data on the same individuals, include their identifier(s) on each sheet.

Only include one value per cell. Don’t enter data such as "120/80" for blood pressure. Enter systolic blood pressure as one variable, and diastolic blood pressure as another variable. Don't enter data as "A,C,D" or "BDF" if there are three possible answers to a question. Include a separate column for each answer.

Don't leave blank rows or columns in the data.

Don’t mix numeric and character values (e.g. names and ID numbers) in the same column. While character variables are allowed in statistical packages, they are not as flexible as numeric variables, which are preferred. Use numeric values when feasible.

Date values are best entered in three columns: one for month, one for day, one for year. You can change them into date values in your statistics package later.

If you have missing values, you can indicate them with a numeric code, such as -1, 99 or 999, or you can leave the cell blank. Be sure the value you use to indicate missingness cannot be confused with a "real" data value.

Save the spreadsheet with values only, not formulas.

Do not underline text, or use boldface or italics.

A suitable excerpt from an Excel data sheet might look like this:

How to Save the Excel File:

SAS 9.1 and 9.2 cannot read .XLXS files, used by Microsoft Excel 7.0. If you have Excel 7.0, you need to save the file as an .XLS file before you can read it into SAS.

SAS can read.XLS files (Excel 5/95/ 97/2000/2002/2003 Workbooks).

If you are experiencing trouble, you can try to save each spreadsheet as an Excel Version 4.0 Worksheet. To save your Excel file in version 4.0, go to the File menu and choose Save As... and then select Excel 4.0 Worksheet (not Workbook) as the file type. You will be able to save only one worksheet at a time in Excel 4.0 format. To preserve your original Excel data, be sure to save the file using a different name.

To recognize the file as an Excel file, SAS will need it to have the .xls extension.

A document very similar to this one is available online at

What Type of Excel Files Can You Import?

SAS can import.XLS files (Excel 5/95/ 97/2000/2002/2003 Workbooks). If you have an Excel Workbook, you need to import each sheet separately, and then merge them in SAS, if necessary.

You can import Excel worksheets, starting with very early versions of Excel (e.g., Excel version 4.0). You can also import individual worksheets from workbooks for later versions of Excel (e.g. Excel 2000), but only one worksheet at a time.

The most recent versions of Excel, .XLXS files, cannot be opened automatically by SAS, and will have to be saved as an earlier (.XLS) version before proceeding.

Step-By-Step Instructions Using the Import Wizard:

Go to the File Menu and select Import Data…

Select the type of data file that you would like to import from the pull-down menu, and click on "Next".

In the dialog box that opens, you can either type the filename that you wish to import or Browse… to the location of the file.

Double-click on the name of the file, and click on Open.

The filename that you have chosen will appear in the Connect to MS Excel dialog box. Click on OK.

In the next dialog box, select the table (worksheet) that you want to import from the pulldown list. In this example, we are selecting the table named EMPLOYEE”, which is in fact, the only table in this workbook. Click on Next>.

At this point, you will be taken to a dialog box that allows you to save the SAS data set to a library. The default temporary library “WORK” will be automatically filled in for you, but you need to type the data set name in the Member box. In this case, we are saving the data set in the WORK library, with the member name EMPLOYEE. SAS will call this dataset WORK.EMPLOYEE, or simply EMPLOYEE.

At this point, you have two choices for what to do.

  • If you click on Finish, the data set will be saved, and you can proceed to work with it.

  • If you click on Next>, you will go to another dialog box, where you will have a chance to save SAS commands to be used to import the data set at a later time.

I usually click on Next>, so I can save my commands for later use. This process is shown below.

Browse to the location where you wish to save your SAS commands (e.g., Click on Finish to complete importing the dataset and saving your commands.

When you check the SAS LOG, you will see a message stating that the data set was successfully created.

If you saved your commands to import the Excel file, you can open them in your SAS enhanced editor, by going to File…Open Program… and browsing to the command file that you saved.

Browse to the file you saved, and select it. Click on Open, or simply double-click on the filename.

The command file will open in your Program Editor Window.


DATAFILE= "C:\temp\labdata\EMPLOYEE.XLS"









From the Program Editor Window, you can modify your SAS commands, and save them to be used later. The data set can be modified by creating a new data step, with additional commands, for example:

data employee2;

set employee;

jobtime_yrs = jobtime/12;

prevexp_yrs = prevexp/12;

if educ not=. then do;

if educ < 12 then edcat=1;

if educ = 12 then edcat=2;

if educ > 12 then edcat=3;



SAS procedures can be run using the new or the original dataset:

The MEANS Procedure

Variable Label N Mean Std Dev Minimum Maximum


id id 474 237.5000000 136.9762753 1.0000000 474.0000000

bdate bdate 473 -1179.56 4302.33 -11282.00 4058.00

educ educ 474 13.4915612 2.8848464 8.0000000 21.0000000

jobcat jobcat 474 1.4113924 0.7732014 1.0000000 3.0000000

salary salary 474 34419.57 17075.66 15750.00 135000.00

salbegin salbegin 474 17016.09 7870.64 9000.00 79980.00

jobtime jobtime 474 81.1097046 10.0609449 63.0000000 98.0000000

prevexp prevexp 474 95.8607595 104.5862361 0 476.0000000

minority minority 474 0.2194093 0.4142836 0 1.0000000

jobtime_yrs 474 6.7591421 0.8384121 5.2500000 8.1666667

prevexp_yrs 474 7.9883966 8.7155197 0 39.6666667

edcat 474 2.3755274 0.6775720 1.0000000 3.0000000



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