Save in Excel

Saving your Excel file is one of those simple exercises often overlooked by an Excel beginner leaving many Excel users knowing very little about the process.  Maybe an XLSB file is a better way for you or perhaps a client requires the file in XLS format, if you want to learn how to save your Excel file along with a few extra tips read on…

Save in Excel

After spending time and lots of effort producing a beautiful Excel report the most critical part is to ensure you have saved your work.  There are two ways to save a file in Excel, using the Save function or the Save As function and they both have the same basic principle in that they will allow you to save your file.

The Save Function: This will save your file using the name, file-path and file type that you have already set.  If this is the first time you are saving the Excel file then it will automatically launch the Save As Function.

The Save As Function: This allows you to name the Excel file, set the file-path (the location where the file will be saved) and also set the file type which you may or may not want to change from the default setting.

Saving with Excel beginners walk-through

To save your Excel file start by clicking on the File menu tab from the Excel Ribbon.  This can be found in the top left corner of the Excel window, as shown below:

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In the File menu click on Save or Save As which again will be found in the top left corner for your convenience:

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Key Point: If this is the first time you have saved this particular file then you will be presented with the Save As window, if you have already saved the file then clicking on Save will just save the file without opening any additional windows.

Assuming this is the first time you have saved the Excel file then the Save As window will appear, the folders on show may vary a little depending your system but the basic layout will be the same as shown below:

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You now have a few options that you must consider and choose, specifically they are:

  1. Where you want the file to be saved, known as the File-Path or Location
  2. What you want the file to be called, known as the File Name.
  3. What type of file you want to use when saving, Excel has 27 options although the default for many of you will be a standard Excel Workbook, also known as an XLSX file.

Where you want the file to be saved

Select the location by navigating to the folder that you want to save the file in.  This is done by clicking on Folder or Location in the left side of the window and then double clicking on a folder within that area if you want to save the file somewhere specific.

For example to save in a location in the Documents folder, in a sub-folder called Excel files you would first click on Documents in the left window pane:

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Then you would double-click on the sub-folder called Excel Files in the main window pane:

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You can confirm the location by checking the file address bar at the top of the window, in this example it shows the file will be saved on This PC, in the Documents Folder, in a Sub Folder called Excel Files:

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Naming the Excel file

The next step is to give your Excel file a name.  Within reason you can call the Excel file anything you like, there are a few limitations that include certain special characters such as colons and question marks and anything over 255 characters will be rejected but Excel will give you a handy error message if you breach any of those constraints and you can pick a shorter or different name.  Choose something that is memorable to you or describes what the file contains to make it easy to find, eventually you may have lots of Excel files in the same folder so it will help you identify the right one quickly.

As standard every new Excel file is called Book1 so all you need to do is change that part in the File Name box as shown below:

00087_Excel Save_07

Key Point: Note the .xlsx part of the filename is defining what type of file it will be saved as, if you overwrite it by mistake it does not matter as Excel will still save the file as either the default version, which is XLSX, or it will amend it when saving if we change the type.

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What type of file to save As

The last part of the saving process is to ensure you are saving the file as the correct type.  As a beginner it will be rare to change from the default option of “Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)” but there are a huge array of options that you can use and it is worth knowing a few of the key ones to ensure you stand out from the crowd.  To change the File Type click on the “Save as type” box below the filename:

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The list of options will show up:

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As you can see there are 27 different options, overwhelming and in truth the majority are rarely used by most Excel users but they are handy to have in certain circumstances.

When you are an Excel beginner there are very few types you need to go into, in fact you may find you never change from the default option but the most useful variants to know are:

  • Excel Workbook (*.xlsx): This is the default Excel file type and one you will use for almost all your work.  Many Excel users will never save their files as anything else.
  • Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook (*.xlsm) : This is the file type when you have created a macro in the file.  A macro is an automated script and hopefully something you will start to utilise when your Excel skillset improves and in order for them to function your Excel file will have to be saved in this type.
  • Excel Binary Workbook (*.xlsb): This is a very useful file type and hugely overlooked by almost all Excel users, many have no idea what an XLSB file is! The XLSB format trims and condenses your Excel file to save space and that can be very useful if you have a large file that you want to email, in the business world the XLSB file type is the one I recommend for most occasions as it saves network space and speeds up email delivery.
  • Microsoft Excel 5.0/95 Workbook (*.xls): This is the file type used by older versions of Excel so if you are creating a file that someone on a very old version of Excel is going to open you might need to save it on this format. These users of the earlier versions of Excel are becoming rarer by the day so if you know someone that asks for this file type direct them to upgrade here! Important to note that some functionality may be lost when saving as this type, for example if you use a fancy shading colour in your charts or a formula that never existing in the old version it will no longer work although Excel usually tells you what will be impacted when you save using this type.

Finally Save the Excel file

With everything selected you are ready to save the Excel file, to do so simply click on the Save Button:

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Top Tip: Get into the habit early on of saving your Excel files at regular intervals to avoid losing any of your hard work in the event of a computer crash, power outage or battery failure on your laptop.  One of the first things I like to do when starting a new Excel file is to save it, that way all you have to do is click on Save every 15minutes or so and you will never lose much work.  It may seem extreme but if you have ever lost hours of work you will understand!


That is all you need to know about saving an Excel file for now.  With your knowledge of XLSM and XLSB file types from this guide you are already ahead of many Excel users out there, hopefully you will continue to enjoy more articles from and enhance your Excel abilities even further.

Keep Excelling,

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