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Working with Excel Using C#

, 18 Dec 2013 CPOL
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Demonstration of Excel manipulations using C#


This article targets at understanding Excel file manipulations programmatically using C#. As this article is intended for the beginner/intermediate level, a quick demonstration of read/write operations on Excel files is supplied with the help of a sample WinForms application. 


Very often we work with MS Office tools like Word, Excel, PPT, etc.. And there is a definitive way to work with these applications using the .NET Framework.  

The features implemented in the attached app include:   

  1. Loading an Excel file
  2. Read/Write from/to Excel
  3. Search contents of Excel using various filters

Let's find out how the above operations are implemented in the below sections.  


This app can only manipulate Excel with four columns, i.e., Name, Emp_ID, Email_ID, and Mobile_No.  


In order to use Excel operations in VS, the first and foremost thing to do is to include the Microsoft.Office Object Library reference to the project. Doing so will enable us to use the namespace Microsoft.Office.Interop.Excel. This namespace is widely referred in the project, hence I have assigned an alias name 'Excel'.

using Excel=Microsoft.Office.Interop.Excel; 

Classes used 

  • Excel.Application -Top level object in the Excel object model, used to specify application level properties and application level methods
  • Excel.Worbook - Represents a single workbook within the Excel application
  • Excel.Worksheet - A member of the Worksheets collection in the Workbook object 

Let's declare these variables for further usage. 

private static Excel.Workbook MyBook = null; 
private static Excel.Application MyApp = null;
private static Excel.Worksheet MySheet = null;

Initialize the Excel

MyApp = new Excel.Application();
MyApp.Visible = false;
MyBook = MyApp.Workbooks.Open(DB_PATH);
MySheet = (Excel.Worksheet)MyBook.Sheets[1]; // Explicit cast is not required here
lastRow = MySheet.Cells.SpecialCells(Excel.XlCellType.xlCellTypeLastCell).Row; 

Please note that the method is used to open an Excel workbook by passing the file path as a parameter to this method. By default, every workbook created has three worksheets. In this example, we have opened the first worksheet using MyBook.Sheets[1]

The last used row in Excel can be calculated using the SpecialCells method with the xlCellTypeLastCell parameter. 

Reading From Excel

The below piece of code demonstrates reading of Excel sheet cells and storing each row in an Employee object.

BindingList<Employee> EmpList = new BindingList<Employee>();
for (int index = 2; index <= lastRow; index++)
    System.Array MyValues = (System.Array)MySheet.get_Range("A" + 
       index.ToString(), "D" + index.ToString()).Cells.Value;
    EmpList.Add(new Employee {
      Name = MyValues.GetValue(1,1).ToString(),
      Employee_ID = MyValues.GetValue(1,2).ToString(),
      Email_ID = MyValues.GetValue(1,3).ToString(),
      Number = MyValues.GetValue(1,4).ToString()

To my surprise, here we have used BindingList for Employee objects rather than a normal List. The reason behind this usage is that, any modification to BindingList will cause the component model object to refresh (if the data source of the UI element is set as a BindingList object). This feature is not achievable using a traditional list.

The get_Range(string, string) method takes the start cell (e.g., A1 ) and end cell (e.g., G4) as parameters and returns all the cell values in this range as a two dimensional array. Therefore, the values are added to the Employee BindingList as an Employee object. 

Writing to Excel

lastRow += 1;
MySheet.Cells[lastRow, 1] = emp.Name;
MySheet.Cells[lastRow, 2] = emp.Employee_ID;
MySheet.Cells[lastRow, 3] = emp.Email_ID;
MySheet.Cells[lastRow, 4] = emp.Number;

The employee details captured in the UI are passed in the form of an object. These values are assigned to the appropriate cells [row_number, column_number]. The Workbook.Save() method is used to save the applied changes to the opened file. 

Points of Interest  

Filtration of employee details using emp_name, emp_id, email_id, and mobile is also featured in this app. Many more methods area available in the Application, WorkBook, and Worksheet classes. Do check them out!


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


About the Author

Nanda Kumar Reddy Ch
Software Developer (Senior)
India India
I am a programmer, trekker, foodie and tennis/cricket follower . Over the last 3 years, working as a developer for web based ordering systems and web services in service oriented architecture(SOA) using various Microsoft .NET technologies. My core skills include ASP.NET, WCF, jQuery, C# and C++.
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Comments and Discussions

QuestionOledb PinmemberMember 110305857-Sep-14 23:23 
QuestionMissing source? PinmemberChuck Stoner29-Aug-14 8:48 
QuestionSee also this: PinprofessionalDietmar Schoder29-Jul-14 6:26 
AnswerRe: See also this: Pinmemberthund3rstruck3-Sep-14 4:00 
QuestionError on Instantiating Worksheet PinmemberMember 108125923-Jun-14 6:28 
AnswerRe: Error on Instantiating Worksheet PinprotectorCHill609-Jul-14 2:25 
QuestionWorking with Excel using C# Pinmemberquadry30-May-14 13:20 
QuestionXLSX file Pinmembergmardok24-May-14 3:15 
AnswerRe: XLSX file Pinmembercharlesbecon26-May-14 21:11 
QuestionHello Kumar, PinmemberÇağrı Daşkın4-May-14 23:53 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pinmemberfredatcodeproject19-Dec-13 4:08 
GeneralRe: My vote of 4 PinmemberNanda Kumar Reddy Ch14-Jan-14 4:39 
QuestionMissing download PinstaffSmitha Vijayan18-Dec-13 9:18 
AnswerRe: Missing download PinmemberNanda Kumar Reddy Ch14-Jan-14 4:38 
GeneralRe: Missing download PinmemberMember 1101931418-Aug-14 2:13 
GeneralRe: Missing download PinmemberNanda Kumar Reddy Ch21-Aug-14 3:11 

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