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8 Import Data

Import grand image4 650px.png

Origin imports many file types: ASCII, CSV, Excel, binary files, and many third-party formats, including Matlab, pClamp, NI TDM and NetCDF. When working with Excel files, you have the choice of importing Excel data into Origin workbook (recommended) or open Excel file inside Origin. Origin also supports importing database files.

Data files can be directly drag-and-dropped into Origin workspace, workbook, matrix or graph window to import them or by File: Import menu which will open dialog for user to customize the import further. For many import routines, multiple data files can be imported at once.

If data are changed inside Origin or data file is changed, use the File: Re-Import Directly menu to reload the data, or use File: Re-Import... menu to change the import settings and reload the data. Starting with Origin 2015, reimport also supports Excel files with multiple sheets.

Import settings can be saved inside the window to speed up the import process of data files with similar structure or saved as a dialog theme file (*.oth) for future use or share with others. When imported via the Import Wizard, settings can be saved to an Origin Import Filter file (*.oif) along with post-import processing instructions (in the form of LabTalk script).

Finally the File: Import menu can be customized to show only the data types or saved import Themes that you use.

When copying and pasting, or importing percentages (e.g. "12%") from ASCII or MS Excel files, Origin now automatically converts values to a numeric decimal.

ASCII Import

The File: Import: Single ASCII... and File: Import: Multiple ASCII... methods are generally satisfactory for importing text files having a simple structure. These methods are also accessible from the Button Import Single ASCII.png and Button Import Multiple ASCII.png buttons located in the Standard toolbar. These methods will typically handle files with commonly-used delimiters and a simple header structure, without adjustments.

If a file imports with only minor complications, select the Show Options Dialog checkbox when selecting your files in the ASCII dialog (File: Import: Single ASCII... and File: Import: Multiple ASCII...). This will open the impASC dialog box prior to file import, allowing you to tweak the way that the files are handled.

Import data 1.png

Once you've adjusted import settings, you can save them in one of two ways: (1) with the worksheet template or (2) as a Theme file from within the impASC dialog box. Saving import settings with the worksheet template offers portability. Saving import settings as a Theme offers the option of adding your import routine to the Import menu (File: Import).

For more information on Themes and templates, see the Customizing Origin chapter later in this User Guide. Additionally, see topics listed under "Topics for Further Reading", below.

Note: For a more in-depth discussion of simple ASCII import, see the help topic:

Help: Origin: Origin Help > Importing and Exporting Data > Importing Simple ASCII Data Files

For import of complex ASCII files -- those not satisfactorily handled by the methods previously mentioned -- you can use the Origin Import Wizard (File: Import: Import Wizard...). The Wizard is also accessible from the Button Import Wizard.png button located in the Standard toolbar. Apart from its advantages for import of complex files, the Wizard also offers the following:

  • Using wild cards, you can create filename-specific filters that are targeted to a group of similarly-named files. This is especially useful for drag-and-drop import operations because all you do is drop the files onto the workspace. Origin looks at the file name, matches it with the correct custom import filter and imports the file according to your specifications.
  • Import data from the web pages using the Clipboard.
  • Extract variables from the import file name and header.
  • Specify custom delimiters and date formats.
  • The ability to post-process your imported data using a custom LabTalk script.
Note: For more information, view the help topic:

Help: Origin: Origin Help > Importing and Exporting Data > The Import Wizard

Tutorial: Importing Multiple Files into Worksheets

  1. Click on the New Workbook button Button New Workbook.png on the Standard toolbar to open a new workbook.
  2. With the new workbook active, click on the Import Multiple ASCII button Button Import Multiple ASCII.png on the same toolbar. This opens the ASCII dialog.
  3. In the ASCII dialog, select the files Sensor01.dat, Sensor02.dat, and Sensor03.dat from the \Samples\Curve Fitting subfolder of your Origin installation folder, and click the Add File(s) button. Then check the Show Options Dialog check box and press OK.
  4. The impASC dialog will open. Under the Import Options node, change Import Mode to Start New Sheets. Expand the (Re)Naming Worksheet node and clear Rename Book with (Partial) Filename.
  5. Press the arrow button Button Save Theme.png at the top right of the dialog box, then select Save As... from the shortcut menu. In the dialog box that opens, enter a name such as Import to sheets and press OK. This will save your settings as a Theme that you can later use with other files.
  6. Press OK to close the impASC dialog.

The three files will be imported, each into a worksheet, and the sheets will be renamed with the file name.

GSBTutorial Files imported to sheets.png

You can quickly access your custom import theme from the File: Recent Imports menu item. You can also use the File: Import: Customize... menu to open the Import Menu Customization dialog box where you can select and add User Themes to the File: Import menu.

CSV Import

You can use File: Import: Comma Delimited (CSV)... to import comma delimited files into an Origin workbook file. Modifications to import file handling are made in the impCSV dialog box and changes can be saved as a Theme file for later use. Alternately, once you've successfully imported your .csv file into an Origin workbook, you can save the workbook as a workbook template file (*.ogw) and reuse the template for re-importing files of like structure.

You can skip columns or rows, when doing a partial file import of CSV files. For information, choose File: Import: Comma Delmited (CSV), check Show Options Dialog and choose a file for import. In the impCSV dialog, expand the Partial Import branch and note the in-dialog syntax hints under Custom.

Binary Import

Files with an optional header section followed by a sequential binary structure, can be imported using the Origin Import Wizard (File: Import: Import Wizard...).

If the binary file format is commonly used in your field of work, please contact your Origin representative so we can consider adding support for such files in future versions.

Copy/Paste the Clipboard Data

One obvious way to get data into Origin is simply to copy data to the Clipboard and paste it into Origin. This can be as easy as selecting a block of data in an Excel workbook and pasting it into an Origin workbook. However, Clipboard data may not be formatted, arrayed or delimited in a way that makes it easy to paste your data into Origin. Here are some things you should know:

  • Data copied from Excel and pasted to Origin will be brought over with full precision, regardless of the number of displayed decimal digits in Excel.
  • When working with Excel files with header information, paste the Clipboard data into data row 1 in Origin (not into the column label rows), then select a row and use the (right-click) shortcut key commands Set as Long Name, Set as Units, Set as Comment, etc. to tag your header information.
  • Data copied from the web can be formatted in various ways. You may have to experiment a bit to find a method that brings the data over cleanly. If a simple copy and paste doesn't work, try using the Import Wizard. The Import Wizard provides an interactive interface for parsing Clipboard data, with the added benefit that you can save your procedure to an import filter file (.oif) for reuse with identically formatted data. For more information, see the tutorial Using the Import Wizard to Import Clipboard Data.
Import data wizard composite resample office 600px.png


There are three ways to work with Excel data in Origin:

  • You can import your Microsoft Excel workbook into an Origin workbook. To do this, use the File: Import: Excel (XLS, XLSX, XLSM)... menu command, or click the Button Import Excel.png button located in the Standard toolbar. You can also update the imported data by using File: Re-Import Directly or use Ctrl+4 keys to re-import Excel sheets with same settings as before.
  • You can copy Excel data to the Clipboard and paste or paste link that data into Origin.
  • You can open your Excel workbook in Origin as an Excel workbook. To do this, use the File: Open Excel... menu command.

When you import or paste your Excel workbook data into an Origin workbook, you have full access to Origin's powerful graphing and analysis features. When you open your Excel workbook as an Excel workbook, you are actually running an OLE instance of Excel inside of the Origin workspace. In this case, you have access to Excel's menus and features, but limited access to Origin's graphing and analysis features.

Things to know:

  • To re-import multiple sheets from Excel to Origin, you need to have Origin 2015 or later.
  • To open an Excel file in Origin as an Excel workbook, you need to have Office 97 or later installed on your computer.
  • To import an Excel file in Origin, the file needs to be of file type .xls, .xlsx or .xlsm.
  • Starting with Origin 2017, you can import Excel files without having MS Excel installed (open as Excel still requires Office 97 or later).
  • Origin does not support dynamically linking a formula in an Excel workbook to source data in another Excel workbook.
  • You can link your Origin project file to an external Excel file. That way updates to the Excel file will trigger updates to dependent graphs etc. when you open the Origin project file.
Note: To learn more about working with Excel data, see the Origin Help:

Help: Origin: Origin Help > Working with Microsoft Excel

Origin 2018 added more naming options on the Excel import ((Re)Naming Worksheet and Workbook branch of the impMSExcel dialog).

In addition, you can now do partial import of your Excel data by defining rows and column ranges. A flexible syntax is provided for including or excluding data ranges. For information, choose File: Import: Excel (XLS, XLSX, XLSM), check Show Options Dialog and choose a file for import. In the impMSExcel dialog, expand the Partial Import branch and note the in-dialog syntax hints under Custom.

Third Party Formats

Origin imports many widely-used third party data formats, including pClamp, NI TDM, and NetCDF. As with ASCII import, you can customize third-party file import options and save your settings with the worksheet template or as a dialog Theme for later use.

As with other supported file types, you can import third party files by drag and drop.

File Type Method To Learn More, see

Help: Origin: Origin Help > Importing and Exporting Data

Thermo (SPC, CGM)
Princeton Instruments (SPE)
Sound (WAV)
HDF5 (H5, HE, HDF5)
Famos (DAT, RAW)
IgorPro (PXP, IBW)
Prism (PZFX, XML)
Minitab (MTW, MPJ)
KaleidaGraph (QDA)
SigmaPlot (JNB)
MZXML(mzData, mzXML, mzML, imzML)
EarthProbe (EPA)
Somat SIE (SIE)
SAS (sas7bdat)
Tektronix (ISF)
Data Translation (DCF, HPF)
Binary 2D Array

File: Import: > Importing Third Party Files
Note: Some of these 3rd party file formats are hidden by default. Turn them on by choosing File:Import:Add/Remove File Types.... This will add file types to the File:Import menu. To insert separators between menu commands, right-click in the right-hand panel of Import Menu Customization and choose Add Separator.

Drag-and-drop support for various file extensions can be customized using the Filter Manager dialog accessible from the Tools: Import Filter Manager... menu item.


File: Database Import menu and Database Access toolbar are provided to import data from database. There are two ways to build the query:

  • SQL Editor: A simple SQL editor to setup database connect and enter SQL query. It's available in both Origin 32-bit and 64-bit.
  • Query Builder: A graphical query builder that assists you in creating an SQL query. It's only available in Origin 32-bit. The query built by it can be loaded and run in Origin 64-bit.

Note: For more information, see the Origin Help

Help: Origin: Origin Help > Importing and Exporting Data > Importing Data from a Database


At times, you may only have a graphic representation of some data that you would like to explore further. In such cases, Origin's Digitizer tool may prove handy. Use the Digitizer to import an image file, then digitize the plots, converting your image to numeric data that you can study and re-plot using Origin's analysis and graphing tools.

Digitizer data import chapter 2.png
  • Import most common image formats.
  • Rotate the imported image, remove noise and calibrate scales by picking start and end values.
  • Pick points on curves manually or automatically.
  • Manually add curve inflection points, as needed.
  • Interactively remove points that you do not want digitized.
  • Support for Cartesian, polar and ternary coordinate systems.

To open the Digitizer:

  1. Click the Digitize Image Button Digitize Image.png button on the Standard toolbar or choose Tools: Digitizer... from the main menu.

Re-Importing Data Files

There are two re-import commands in the File menu:

  • Re-Import Directly. When you import a file into an Origin worksheet or matrix sheet, by default a number of parameters, including file path and name, are saved in the sheet. If you have an external data file that is periodically updated, direct re-import is a quick way to update your Origin project file.
  • Re-Import.... This menu command opens the corresponding X-Function import dialog box for the file type so that you can adjust your import options before re-importing.


  • Only one file can be re-imported at a time. When you use either of these two menu commands, only the file associated with the active worksheet or matrix sheet, will be imported. If the selected data are imported from multiple files, re-importing will fail.
  • If you import an ASCII file via the Import Wizard and select File: Re-Import..., the Import Single ASCII dialog will open instead of the Import Wizard.
  • Re-import does not work for Binary or User Defined data types brought in using the Import Wizard.

Topics for Further Reading


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