The Limits of Excel

Just in case you did not know but relevant to large data sets and “BIG” lists.

Worksheet and workbook specifications

Open workbooks Limited by available memory and system resources
Worksheet size 65,536 rows by 256 columns
Column width 255 characters
Row height 409 points
Page breaks 1000 horizontal and vertical
Length of cell contents (text) 32,767 characters. Only 1,024 display in a cell; all 32,767 display in the formula bar.
Sheets in a workbook Limited by available memory (default is 3 sheets)
Colors in a workbook 56
Cell styles in a workbook 4,000
Named views in a workbook Limited by available memory
Custom number formats Between 200 and 250, depending on the language version of Excel you have installed.
Names in a workbook Limited by available memory
Windows in a workbook Limited by system resources
Hyperlinks in a worksheet 66,530 hyperlinks
Panes in a window 4
Linked sheets Limited by available memory
Scenarios Limited by available memory; a summary report shows only the first 251 scenarios
Changing cells in a scenario 32
Adjustable cells in Solver 200
Custom functions Limited by available memory
Zoom range 10 percent to 400 percent
Reports Limited by available memory
Sort references 3 in a single sort; unlimited when using sequential sorts
Undo levels 16
Fields in a data form 32
Custom toolbars in a workbook Limited by available memory
Custom toolbar buttons Limited by available memory

Workgroup specifications

Users who can open and share a shared workbook at the same time 256
Personal views in a shared workbook Limited by available memory
Days that change history is maintained 32,767 (default is 30 days)
Workbooks that can be merged at one time Limited by available memory
Cells that can be highlighted in a shared workbook 32,767
Colors used to identify changes made by different users when change highlighting is turned on 32 (each user is identified by a separate color; changes made by the current user are highlighted with navy blue)

Calculation specifications

Number precision 15 digits
Largest number allowed to be typed into a cell 9.99999999999999E+307
Largest allowed positive number 1.79769313486231E+308
Smallest allowed negative number -2.2251E-308
Smallest allowed positive number 2.229E-308
Largest allowed negative number -1E-307
Length of formula contents 1,024 characters
Iterations 32,767
Worksheet arrays Limited by available memory. Also, arrays cannot refer to entire columns. For example, an array cannot refer to the entire column C:C or to the range C1:C65536. However, an array can refer to the range C1:D65535 because the range is one row short of the maximum worksheet size and does not include the entire C or D column.
Selected ranges 2,048
Arguments in a function 30
Nested levels of functions 7
Number of available worksheet functions 329
Earliest date allowed for calculation January 1, 1900 (January 1, 1904, if 1904 date system is used)
Latest date allowed for calculation December 31, 9999
Largest amount of time that can be entered 9999:59:59

PivotTable report specifications

PivotTable reports on a sheet Limited by available memory
Unique items per field 32,500
Row or column fields in a PivotTable report Limited by available memory
Page fields in a PivotTable report 256 (may be limited by available memory)
Data fields in a PivotTable report 256
Calculated item formulas in a PivotTable report Limited by available memory

Charting specifications

Charts linked to a worksheet Limited by available memory
Worksheets referred to by a chart 255
Data series in one chart 255
Data points in a data series for 2-D charts 32,000
Data points in a data series for 3-D charts 4,000
Data points for all data series in one chart 256,000
Line styles 8
Line weights 4
Area patterns (screen display) 18
Total area pattern and color combinations (color display) 56,448
Pattern and color combinations (color printer) 56,448 (the actual number depends on your printer and its software)
Page fields in a PivotChart report 256 (may be limited by available memory)
Data fields in a PivotChart report 256
Calculated item formulas in a PivotChart report Limited by available memory

About Shaun Farrell

I have been involved in the construction sector since 1986 and over the years I have seen things change dramatically. Much of the change has been directly as a result of technology. This blog will be about the key combinations of People, Process and Technology. Any views expressed here are strictly my own.
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