Opening Excel in Europe

Posted on 2011-10-04
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
(I am located in the US) I have a web application that allows the user to export data into a Microsoft Excel file.  When one of the clients (located in Europe) opens the file, they say that all/most special characters ($, accents, etc) get jumbled, so they say.  I'm assuming it's not being translated correctly.  Any suggestions?

Question by:geoffsweb
    LVL 39

    Expert Comment

    Are you using some sort of sendkeys? It usually messes up things majorly when I run it on French regional settings. Can you post parts of your app so we can have a little more insight into the issue?

    LVL 40

    Accepted Solution

    Many things can happen. Here are the 2 most current.


    Your application maybe exporting in ASCII instead of Unicode.

    Excel usually use Unicode characters. There are over 60,000 characters in Unicode, enough to cover all the earth languages except Chinese. So if you type something directly in Excel, it usually ends up showing the same characters to your user, no matter what language they are using.

    Many Web application however still work with the old ASCII characters.

    ASCII are limited to 256 values. They cannot hold all the characters used in different languages, so there are different sets of characters for different languages. As an example, 233 represents "é" in the ASCII set that is commonly used in the US and Canada, but can end up as "ó" in another set.

    Since you have a Web application, if it tries to send "é", it might end up as "ó" or something else on the other side of the Atlantic. Your Web application should send é instead. That would be recognized properly as "é" on almost any system.

    If your users use you Web application to generate Excel files in Europe, it might well be your problem. If however you create the Excel file here and then sent the file to Europe, you should normally not have the problem, because Excel uses Unicode instead of ASCII. Unless you use an old version of Excel from before Unicode became a standard.

    For the $, the problem could come from somewhere else. If you send the data as a monetary (currency) value, it will adapt to the currency symbol defined in the Control Panel on the receiving side. In Europe, this is usually € instead of $. And unfortunately, the system won't automatically make the translation from US dollars to the Euro, so $45.67 will display €45.67 in most european countries.
    LVL 2

    Assisted Solution

    If you can read the accented characters of the resulting output properly in Excel, with your setup, then it means that it is not the server, but rather incompatibility betwenn your and the recipient's system.
    Usually, it is possible to select the character set with spreadsheet applications like Excel and OpenOffice. You should check if your application is defaulting to something different than your user's setup.
    Better use Unicode for the output, but ISO-8859-2 also covers several European accented character sets. Your output may be using a character set that does not support accented characters, and when you read it on your own system, the default settings on your side may return the garbling to the proper characters, while others see garbling because they use a different character set as default.
    If you can read the resulting characters, tell the other side which character set they should use (and at the same time ask what they are using).

    Author Comment

    Thanks for all the suggestions... I am looking into them and will report back :)
    LVL 50

    Expert Comment

    This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.

    Featured Post

    Do You Know the 4 Main Threat Actor Types?

    Do you know the main threat actor types? Most attackers fall into one of four categories, each with their own favored tactics, techniques, and procedures.

    Join & Write a Comment

    Suggested Solutions

    Many companies are making the switch from Microsoft to Google Apps ( Use this article to learn more about what Google Apps has to offer and to help if you’re planning on migrating to Google Apps. It is …
    This collection of functions covers all the normal rounding methods of just about any numeric value.
    The viewer will learn how to use a discrete random variable to simulate the return on an investment over a period of years, create a Monte Carlo simulation using the discrete random variable, and create a graph to represent the possible returns over…
    This Micro Tutorial demonstrates in Microsoft Excel how to consolidate your marketing data by creating an interactive charts using form controls. This creates cool drop-downs for viewers of your chart to choose from.

    732 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    24 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now