Microsoft small business knowledge base

Article ID: 323626 - Last Review: December 19, 2012 - Revision: 1.0

This article was previously published under Q323626
For a Microsoft Excel for Macintosh version of this article, see 215591  ( ) .

On This Page


When you try to open a text file or a comma-separated variable (CSV) file, you may receive the following error message:
SYLK: File format is not valid


This problem occurs when you open a text file or CSV file and the first two characters of the file are the uppercase letters "I" and "D". For example, the text file may contain the following text:
   123, open
   456, closed
Note This problem does not occur if the first two letters are lowercase "i" and "d".


To open your file in Excel, open the file in a text editor, and then insert an apostrophe at the beginning of the first line of text.

How to Insert an Apostrophe

To add an apostrophe to the beginning of the first line of text in your file, follow these steps:
  1. Open the text file in a text editor, such as Notepad. Click before the first character in the first line of text. Press the APOSTROPHE key on your keyboard (').
  2. On the File menu, click Save. Quit the text editor. You can now open the file in Excel.


Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed in the "Applies to" section.

More information

A SYLK file is a text file that begins with "ID" or "ID_xxxx", where xxxx is a text string. The first record of a SYLK file is the ID_Number record. When Excel identifies this text at the beginning of a text file, it interprets the file as a SYLK file. Excel tries to convert the file from the SYLK format, but cannot do so because there are no valid SYLK codes after the "ID" characters. Because Excel cannot convert the file, you receive the error message.

For more information about a similar error message, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
224134  ( ) Error message: File format is not valid
Note This is a "FAST PUBLISH" article created directly from within the Microsoft support organization. The information contained herein is provided as-is in response to emerging issues. As a result of the speed in making it available, the materials may include typographical errors and may be revised at any time without notice. See Terms of Use ( for other considerations.

Applies to
  • Microsoft Excel 2002 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel 2000 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel 97 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2003
kbbug kberrmsg kbpending KB323626
Additional support options
Ask The Microsoft Small Business Support Community
Contact Microsoft Small Business Support
Find Microsoft Small Business Support Certified Partner
Find a Microsoft Store For In-Person Small Business Support