API Reference

class xlwt.Workbook.Workbook(encoding='ascii', style_compression=0)

This is a class representing a workbook and all its contents. When creating Excel files with xlwt, you will normally start by instantiating an object of this class.

add_sheet(sheetname, cell_overwrite_ok=False)

This method is used to create Worksheets in a Workbook.

  • sheetname – The name to use for this sheet, as it will appear in the tabs at the bottom of the Excel application.
  • cell_overwrite_ok – If True, cells in the added worksheet will not raise an exception if written to more than once.

The Worksheet that was added.


This method is used to save the Workbook to a file in native Excel format.

Parameters:filename_or_stream – This can be a string containing a filename of the file, in which case the excel file is saved to disk using the name provided. It can also be a stream object with a write method, such as a StringIO, in which case the data for the excel file is written to the stream.
class xlwt.Worksheet.Worksheet(sheetname, parent_book, cell_overwrite_ok=False)

This is a class representing the contents of a sheet in a workbook.


You don’t normally create instances of this class yourself. They are returned from calls to add_sheet().

write(r, c, label='', style=<xlwt.Style.XFStyle object>)

This method is used to write a cell to a Worksheet.

  • r – The zero-relative number of the row in the worksheet to which the cell should be written.
  • c – The zero-relative number of the column in the worksheet to which the cell should be written.
  • label

    The data value to be written.

    An int, long, or Decimal instance is converted to float.

    A unicode instance is written as is. A bytes instance is converted to unicode using the encoding, which defaults to ascii, specified when the Workbook instance was created.

    A datetime, date or time instance is converted into Excel date format (a float representing the number of days since (typically) 1899-12-31T00:00:00, under the pretence that 1900 was a leap year).

    A bool instance will show up as TRUE or FALSE in Excel.

    None causes the cell to be blank: no data, only formatting.

    An xlwt.Formula instance causes an Excel formula to be written.

  • style

    A style, also known as an XF (extended format), is an XFStyle object, which encapsulates the formatting applied to the cell and its contents.

    XFStyle objects are best set up using the easyxf() function. They may also be set up by setting attributes in Alignment, Borders, Pattern, Font and Protection objects then setting those objects and a format string as attributes of an XFStyle object.


The XF record is able to store explicit cell formatting attributes or the attributes of a cell style. Explicit formatting includes the reference to a cell style XF record. This allows to extend a defined cell style with some explicit attributes. The formatting attributes are divided into 6 groups:

Group Attributes
Number format Number format index (index to FORMAT record)
Font Font index (index to FONT record)
Alignment Horizontal and vertical alignment, text wrap, indentation, orientation/rotation, text direction
Border Border line styles and colours
Background Background area style and colours
Protection Cell locked, formula hidden

For each group a flag in the cell XF record specifies whether to use the attributes contained in that XF record or in the referenced style XF record. In style XF records, these flags specify whether the attributes will overwrite explicit cell formatting when the style is applied to a cell. Changing a cell style (without applying this style to a cell) will change all cells which already use that style and do not contain explicit cell attributes for the changed style attributes. If a cell XF record does not contain explicit attributes in a group (if the attribute group flag is not set), it repeats the attributes of its style XF record.

xlwt.Style.easyxf(strg_to_parse='', num_format_str=None, field_sep=', ', line_sep=';', intro_sep=':', esc_char='\\', debug=False)

This function is used to create and configure XFStyle objects for use with (for example) the Worksheet.write() method.

It takes a string to be parsed to obtain attribute values for Alignment, Borders, Font, Pattern and Protection objects.

Refer to the examples in the file examples/xlwt_easyxf_simple_demo.py and to the xf_dict dictionary in xlwt.Style.

Various synonyms including color/colour, center/centre and gray/grey are allowed. Case is irrelevant (except maybe in font names). - may be used instead of _.

Example: font: bold on; align: wrap on, vert centre, horiz center


To get the “number format string” of an existing cell whose format you want to reproduce, select the cell and click on Format/Cells/Number/Custom. Otherwise, refer to Excel help.

Examples: "#,##0.00", "dd/mm/yyyy"

Returns:An XFstyle object.