Metadata contained in actual Microsoft Excel files

Whilst it may be interesting to know in theory what metadata is available for use in Excel documents, the actual document properties used in real Excel spreadsheets might be different.

To find this out, 1,113 Excel workbooks were downloaded at random (see methodology), and the metadata extractor Filecats Professional has been used to extract the metadata to see what document properties were actually used.

The results are as follows:

Results of Microsoft Excel metadata analysis

Common metadata for Microsoft Excel documents

  • All of the files included accessed, created and modified dates (from Windows Explorer). Most of the files also include Date last saved and content created (from Microsoft Office). It should be noted that the Windows Explorer dates may be different to the Microsoft Office dates, and the Microsoft Office metadata dates should be preferred. For more information, see the article “Comparison of Windows Explorer and metadata dates”.
  • 9 out of 10 files include “Last Saved by” information, and around 8 out of 10 files include Author, Creator and Participant document properties. Whilst Authors, Creators and Participants are shown as separate document properties, in each case these three contained the same information. In each file there was only one Author.

Less common Microsoft Excel document properties

  • In 58% of the files the “Last Saved by” is different to the Author, and 4% of files had a user of User, Admin, Microsoft Corporation or Usuario.
  • 1 out of 2 files had a date “Last Printed”, and only 2 out of 5 files had a “Company”. This last figure is lower than the 60% of Microsoft Word files which had a “Company” document property. 6% of these files (i.e. 15% of all files which had a “Company” metadata) were either Microsoft, Microsoft Corporation, Hewlett-Packard, Home or Hewlett-Packard Company.
  • Only 1 out of 14 files (7.2%) had a Title, significantly less than the 51% of Microsoft Word files which included it.
  • Information which was infrequently used are the Revision Number (1 out of 30 files), Tags (1 out of 65%), Categories (1 out of 85) and Manager (1 out of 185). Unlike Word documents, neither Microsoft Office statistics nor Template information is used.

The source of the analysis is as per the below spreadsheet.

Download Analysis of Excel spreadsheet file properties
27 October 2014
Microsoft Excel sheet [1.8 MB]

This is one of three articles, the others regarding Document Properties actually used in Word documents, and metadata actually used in PowerPoint presentations.

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Do you want to be able to access your workbooks’ metadata (such as the ones shown in this article)? If so, the Metadata Extractor Filecats Professional imports the metadata from your folders and subfolders into Microsoft Excel. If you don’t have Excel, then Filecats Metadata is the program for you.

Download a 7-day free trial today.

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