Microsoft SYLK

Also Known As: Symbolic Link Format, SLK

Type Vector
Colors NA
Compression NA
Maximum Image Size NA
Multiple Images Per File No
Numerical Format NA
Originator Microsoft Corporation
Platform MS-DOS, others
Supporting Applications Spreadsheets, business graphics applications
See Also Lotus DIF

Interchange of spreadsheet information.

Yet another format used to share spreadsheet information with business graphics applications.

The Microsoft SYLK (Symbolic Link) format is used mainly for the interchange of spreadsheet data between applications such as Microsoft Multiplan and Excel. Files in this format might also be imported directly by business graphics applications. SYLK files are written entirely in ASCII and, like Lotus DIF and SDI, are application-independent. SYLK, however, incorporates several features not found in other spreadsheet data interchange formats.

File Organization
File Details
For Further Information

File Organization

Records in a SYLK file contain three fields: a Record Type Descriptor (RTD), a Field Type Descriptor (FTD), and a variable amount of data. A SYLK record has the following format:

<RTD>;<FTD>;<data> ...

File Details

The following Record Type Descriptors (RTDs) are currently defined by SYLK:




Cell boundary


A data cell


End of file


Cell formatting parameter


SYLK file identification record


Link to an inactive spreadsheet file


Name given to a rectangluar area of cells


Substitute filename


Time and date stamp formats

Each Record Type Decriptor may be followed by a single Field Type Descriptor (FTD) if needed. Most field type descriptors have meanings unique to each record, but a few, listed below, have meanings global to all record types:




Column width


Horizontal cell coordinate


Vertical cell coordinate

The SYLK file format does not contain a header and resembles a data stream in its design. Except for the ID record, which must be the first record in every SYLK file, RTDs may appear anywhere in the file with the following exceptions:

For Further Information

SYLK was created and is maintained by Microsoft Corporation. You may be able to get information by contacting:

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
Voice: 206-882-8080
Voice: 800-426-9400
FAX: 206-883-8101

The following reference also contains information about the SYLK format:

Walden, Jeffrey B. File Formats for Popular PC Software, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 1986.

You may also be able to get information via FTP through the Developer Relations Group at:

Copyright © 1996, 1994 O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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