Why did I get an unrecognizable format error when opening Excel reports?

PayPal returned an unrecognizable format error when you tried to open daily generated reports in Excel.

This issue occurs due to the way these types of report files are encoded (UTF-8). Newer versions (Excel 2003 or later) may not have this issue.

Here's how to handle this situation:

  1. Download and open the report in Excel.
  2. If Excel displays a message, click OK.
  3. The report displays within Excel.
    Note: All the text for each row is in the A column. Values are separated by the comma delimiter, but they are still in a single column.
  4. To reformat the report, use the Text to Columns Wizard:
    1. Select column A so the entire column is highlighted.
    2. Select Data > Text to Columns.
    3. The Text to Columns Wizard appears. Select Delimited, then click Next.
    4. Select either Tab or Comma for the delimiter, and click Next. If the report is comma-delimited, the file name should end with a .CSV file extension. If the report is tab-delimited, it should end with .TAB as the file extension. The Wizard breaks the data into columns in the Data preview window.
    5. Click Finish.
The report should now be properly formatted with each data value in its own cell.

Note: If you see pound signs (#####) within a cell, it means the text is too long for the current column width. Click and drag to expand the cell width to view the values.

See also:
Number signs (#) are displayed in a cell instead of text characters in Excel 2003