Working with Lotus 1-2-3 Spreadsheets

You probably already know that Excel will easily open a wide variety of spreadsheets stored in other formats. One that it will open is spreadsheets originally created in Lotus 1-2-3. If you have some old 1-2-3 files and you want to make sure that they are treated, in Excel, according to Lotus 1-2-3 “rules,” there are a couple of settings you need to pay attention to.

Start by displaying the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 and Excel2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.) Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the options and you should see a section named Lotus Compatibility Settings. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The advanced Excel Options.

Notice that there are two options in this section; these are the two you want to work with.

  • Transition Formula Evaluation. When checked, this option causes Excel to open and evaluate 1-2-3 files without losing or changing information. Based on the formulas in the 1-2-3 file, if this option isn’t checked, then you might lose some data or some formulas won’t calculate the same in Excel as they would have in Lotus 1-2-3. Specifically, with this option selected Excel evaluates text strings as 0 (zero), Boolean expressions as 0 or 1, and database criteria according to the rules used in Lotus 1-2-3.
  • Transition Formula Entry. If this check box is selected, then formulas entered in Lotus 1-2-3 version 2.2 syntax are converted to Excel syntax. This option should not be selected if you don’t plan on saving the spreadsheet in Excel format.

Make your settings, as desired, then close the Options dialog box. Open the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet and Excel should process the file according to the settings you made.