I am trying to export a non-rectangular nested list of data as an xlsx spreadsheet. If I export an un-nested list, it shows up as a single column. However when I go to export the nested list, it makes each sublist a row where I would like each sublist to be a column. My datasets are large and XLSX has a limit on the number of columns, so Mathematica will not even attempt the export and instead throws error Export::toomany3. This means I cannot swap the rows for columns in Excel. Furthermore, Mathematica won't let me transpose before exporting since the list is not rectangular. I can export the data as a CSV then use an online tool to transpose it, but it just seems like there's got to be a simple way to get Mathematica to do it. Any help would be appreciated.

data = Table[Range[i], {i, {51125, 26336, 10932, 3834, 1579}}];(*Example data*)
Export["data.xlsx", data[[1]]] (* Gives me a spreadsheet with 1 column *)
Export["data.xlsx", data] (* Tries to export data[[i]] as row instead of column *)
(* throws error because exceeds column number limit for xlsx *)

Solution provided by george2079:

Export["data.xlsx", Function[{cols}, Transpose[PadRight[#, Max[Length /@ cols], ""] & /@ cols]]@data]

Thanks for your help!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please do not post images of your work, especially when the images display at a size that make them difficult to read. Please post your actual Mathematica code in the form of text that can be copied and pasted into a Mathematica notebook. Without such, it will be difficult to reproduce your problem and to experiment with possible solutions. $\endgroup$
    – m_goldberg
    Nov 28, 2017 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ pad all the lists so they are the same length (PadRight), then transpose, then export. I think if you pad with empty strings excel will be happy. $\endgroup$
    – george2079
    Nov 28, 2017 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ I am new here so I appreciate the advice @m_goldberg. I have edited the question as per your suggestion. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – bRost03
    Nov 29, 2017 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


following my comment here is how to use PadRight

c1 = {1, 2}
c2 = {3, 4, 5}
    Transpose[PadRight[#, Max[Length /@ cols], ""] & /@ cols]]@{c1,c2}]

( verified the "" pad gives an empty cell in excel )

also if you don't mind padding with zeros even more simply:

Export["test.xls", Transpose@PadRight@{c1, c2}]

unfortunately you can't specify the pad element with the array form of PadRight


First, you must convert your rows to columns. For instance:

data1 = {#} & /@ RandomReal[{0, 1}, 51125];
data2 =  {#} & /@ RandomReal[{0, 1}, 26336];

then, export:

Export["data.xlsx", "Sheets" -> {"random 1" -> data1, "random 2" -> data2}, "Rules"]
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    $\begingroup$ Alternative way to convert a list to a column: dataColumn = Transpose[{RandomReal[{0, 1}, 51125]}] $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2017 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ This gives each column in a separate sheet which is closer to what I am trying to do but is still inconvenient to work with. Thanks for taking the time to answer! $\endgroup$
    – bRost03
    Nov 29, 2017 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ You want to export the data as columns in the same sheet? If so the modification of Export should be easy. $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2017 at 18:25

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