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Export DataSet to Multiple Excel Sheets

, 12 Dec 2008 CPOL
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Exporting multiple tables in a DataSet to multiple sheets in an Excel file


I was in need of exporting multiple tables in a DataSet to an Excel file with multiple sheets, and I couldn't find anything that actually works. So, I wrote one to help people who might be in the same situation. The complete code in ExcelHelper.cs is shown below.

This only works for Excel 2003 and later versions. If a table in the dataset has more than 65,000 rows, it will break it into multiple sheets for the table with sheet name (tableNameX). replaceXmlChar() function is added to escape XML reserved characters.

Limitations of the Code

It does not handle data tables with more than 256 columns (Excel 2003 column limit), and when data tables have very large rows count, it might throw OutOfMemory exception.

Using the Code

To export a DataSet, just call the ExcelHelper.ToExcel() function as follows:

 var ds = new DataSet();
            var dt = new DataTable("TableName For Sheet1");
            dt.Rows.Add("Value1", "Value2");

            var dt2 = new DataTable("TableName For Sheet2");
            dt2.Rows.Add("Value1", "Value2");
            ExcelHelper.ToExcel(ds, "test.xls", Page.Response);      

Here is the code that does the exporting:


public class ExcelHelper
    //Row limits older Excel version per sheet
        const int rowLimit = 65000;

        private static string getWorkbookTemplate()
            var sb = new StringBuilder();
            sb.Append("<xml version>\r\n<Workbook
            sb.Append(" xmlns:o=\"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office\"\r\n
		xmlns:x=\"urn:schemas- microsoft-com:office:excel\"\r\n
            sb.Append(" <Styles>\r\n
		<Style ss:ID=\"Default\" ss:Name=\"Normal\">\r\n
		<Alignment ss:Vertical=\"Bottom\"/>\r\n <Borders/>");
            sb.Append("\r\n <Font/>\r\n <Interior/>\r\n <NumberFormat/>\r\n
		<Protection/>\r\n </Style>\r\n
		<Style ss:ID=\"BoldColumn\">\r\n <Font ");
            sb.Append("x:Family=\"Swiss\" ss:Bold=\"1\"/>\r\n </Style>\r\n
		<Style ss:ID=\"s62\">\r\n <NumberFormat");
            sb.Append(" ss:Format=\"@\"/>\r\n </Style>\r\n
		<Style ss:ID=\"Decimal\">\r\n
		<NumberFormat ss:Format=\"0.0000\"/>\r\n </Style>\r\n ");
            sb.Append("<Style ss:ID=\"Integer\">\r\n
		<NumberFormat ss:Format=\"0\"/>\r\n </Style>\r\n
		<Style ss:ID=\"DateLiteral\">\r\n <NumberFormat ");
            sb.Append("ss:Format=\"mm/dd/yyyy;@\"/>\r\n </Style>\r\n
		<Style ss:ID=\"s28\">\r\n");
            sb.Append("<Alignment ss:Horizontal=\"Left\" ss:Vertical=\"Top\"
		ss:ReadingOrder=\"LeftToRight\" ss:WrapText=\"1\"/>\r\n");
            sb.Append("<Font x:CharSet=\"1\" ss:Size=\"9\"
		ss:Color=\"#808080\" ss:Underline=\"Single\"/>\r\n");
            sb.Append("<Interior ss:Color=\"#FFFFFF\" ss:Pattern=\"Solid\"/>

		</Style>\r\n</Styles>\r\n {0}</Workbook>");
            return sb.ToString();

        private static string replaceXmlChar(string input)
            input = input.Replace("&", "&");
            input = input.Replace("<", "<");
            input = input.Replace(">", ">");
            input = input.Replace("\"", """);
            input = input.Replace("'", "&apos;");
            return input;

        private static string getWorksheets(DataSet source)
            var sw = new StringWriter();
            if (source == null || source.Tables.Count == 0)
                sw.Write("<Worksheet ss:Name=\"Sheet1\"><Table><Row>

		<Cell  ss:StyleID=\"s62\"><Data ss:Type=\"String\"></Data>
                return sw.ToString();
            foreach (DataTable dt in source.Tables)
                if (dt.Rows.Count == 0)
                    sw.Write("<Worksheet ss:Name=\"" + replaceXmlChar(dt.TableName) +
			"\"><Table><Row><Cell  ss:StyleID=\"s62\">

			<Data ss:Type=\"String\"></Data></Cell></Row>
                    //write each row data
                    var sheetCount = 0;
                    for (int i = 0; i < dt.Rows.Count; i++)
                        if ((i % rowLimit) == 0)
                            //add close tags for previous sheet of the same data table
                            if ((i / rowLimit) > sheetCount)
                                sheetCount = (i / rowLimit);
                            sw.Write("<Worksheet ss:Name=\"" +
				replaceXmlChar(dt.TableName) +
                                     (((i / rowLimit) == 0) ? "" :
				Convert.ToString(i / rowLimit)) + "\"><Table>");
                            //write column name row
                            foreach (DataColumn dc in dt.Columns)
                                        "<Cell ss:StyleID=\"BoldColumn\">

				<Data ss:Type=\"String\">{0}</Data></Cell>",
                        foreach (DataColumn dc in dt.Columns)
                                    "<Cell ss:StyleID=\"s62\"><Data ss:Type=\"String\">


            return sw.ToString();
        public static string GetExcelXml(DataTable dtInput, string filename)
            var excelTemplate = getWorkbookTemplate();
            var ds = new DataSet();
            var worksheets = getWorksheets(ds);
            var excelXml = string.Format(excelTemplate, worksheets);
            return excelXml;

        public static string GetExcelXml(DataSet dsInput, string filename)
            var excelTemplate = getWorkbookTemplate();
            var worksheets = getWorksheets(dsInput);
            var excelXml = string.Format(excelTemplate, worksheets);
            return excelXml;

        public static void ToExcel
		(DataSet dsInput, string filename, HttpResponse response)
            var excelXml = GetExcelXml(dsInput, filename);
            response.AppendHeader("Content-Type", "application/");
		("Content-disposition", "attachment; filename=" + filename);

        public static void ToExcel
		(DataTable dtInput, string filename, HttpResponse response)
            var ds = new DataSet();
            ToExcel(ds, filename, response);


  • 7th December, 2008: Initial post
  • 8th December, 2008: Source code and article updated
  • 11th December, 2008: Source code and article updated


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Software Developer Oliver Wyman Groups
United States United States
Education: Masters in Applied mathematics
MCP in
MCP in SQL Server 2008 Implementation.
Working Experience In .Net since 2005

Comments and Discussions

AnswerRe: error message when opening text.xls Pinmembercadetduke30-Mar-12 10:49 
GeneralRe: error message when opening text.xls PinmemberTeenustar10-Oct-12 11:55 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberARK Kambhampati27-Feb-12 21:03 
QuestionAlternate row color Pinmemberkinjalin29-Nov-11 22:02 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberFredde197728-Sep-11 4:50 
Questionneed help with style sheet error [modified] Pinmembertalmans26-Aug-11 13:47 
BugNot woking with Marquee taq? Pinmembermuthura120-Jun-11 2:39 
GeneralMy vote of 5! PinmemberFilip D'haene14-May-11 12:11 
Thanks for sharing! Smile | :)
QuestionCell Formatting.. Issues...? Pinmembercodingrocks13-Mar-11 3:24 
AnswerRe: Cell Formatting.. Issues...? PinmemberMing_Lu13-Mar-11 15:41 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pinmemberpraveen_adb9-Jan-11 21:26 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberbacoares23-Nov-10 5:48 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberL.H.C1-Oct-10 19:56 
GeneralEasy alternative PinmemberCikaPero13-Apr-10 23:52 
GeneralAuto Fit Excel Columns PinmemberMember 465177014-Jan-10 2:10 
GeneralSys.WebForms.PageRequestManagerParserErrorException PinmemberSteve Crochet28-Dec-09 10:14 
GeneralRe: Sys.WebForms.PageRequestManagerParserErrorException PinmemberMing_Lu2-Jan-10 4:55 
GeneralRe: Sys.WebForms.PageRequestManagerParserErrorException PinmemberSteve Crochet4-Jan-10 6:44 
QuestionWhat shd i use instead of var?? PinmemberBushra2813-Oct-09 0:12 
GeneralBig File Size Pinmembertxshxx4-Oct-09 18:12 
QuestionExport to Excel 2003 using ASP [modified] Pinmemberkaransaxena15-Jun-09 11:46 
GeneralHandle linefeed in cells PinmemberDACS13-Mar-09 14:43 
AnswerRe: Handle linefeed in cells PinmemberMing_Lu3-Apr-09 8:18 
GeneralRe: Handle linefeed in cells PinmemberDACS3-Apr-09 22:35 
QuestionCan I use this class in Windows Application? PinmemberSu Win8-Mar-09 5:17 

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