What Is The Difference Between Workbook And Worksheet In Excel?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 12/21/22 •  3 min read

When using Excel you often hear files being referred to as workbooks and worksheets but you may be wondering what the actual difference is between the two. Is there actually a difference?

A workbook refers to the Excel file in which you are working whereas the worksheet is the individual sheet within Excel that you actually do your calculations in. A workbook can contain multiple worksheets within them each labeled with the individual named allowing them to be identified. Each worksheet has a maximum of 1048576 rows and 16348 columns.

When creating a workbook there are several different types of file extensions that can be created based on your needs. The most common file types used are listed below with a description of what they actually are. Personally, the most common types of files that I use are Excel Workbook and Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook.

The Excel workbook is the default file type provided by Excel. The main difference between these files is that the macro-enabled workbook allows VBA code to be stored within the file which can be generated from recorded macros or written VBA code. Any macros that are recorded using an Excel workbook will be lost unless the file type is changed to a macro-enabled workbook.

File ExtensionFormatDescription
.xlsxExcel WorkbookThe default XML-based file format for Excel 2010 and Excel 2007. Cannot store Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro code or Microsoft Office Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
.xlsmExcel Macro-Enabled Workbook (code)The XML-based and macro-enabled file format for Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, and Excel 2007. Stores VBA macro code or Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
.xlsbExcel Binary WorkbookThe binary file format (BIFF12) for Excel 2010 and Excel 2007.
.xltxTemplateThe default file format for an Excel template for Excel 2010 and Excel 2007. Cannot store VBA macro code or Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
.xltmTemplate (code)The macro-enabled file format for an Excel template Excel 2010 and Excel 2007. Stores VBA macro code or Excel 4.0 macro sheets (.xlm).
.xls Excel 97- Excel 2003 WorkbookThe Excel 97 – Excel 2003 Binary file format (BIFF8).
.xltExcel 97- Excel 2003 TemplateThe Excel 97 – Excel 2003 Binary file format (BIFF8).

What Is The Difference Between An Excel Workbook And A Template?

An Excel workbook and the template have similar functionality to each other with the main difference being that templates are specifically designed to allow the user to get a pre-formatted file that can be subsequently modified quickly and easily rather than reinventing the weekend every time a new file is created. 

It is important to note that there are two versions of the template files one which enables the use of VBA code within the template and the other one which does not. 

Generally, these templates are most useful for creating things such as calendars or to-do lists. There are many different types of Excel templates available for free. To access these Excel templates click new and select the relevant template below or search for available templates online to find one that is suitable for your purpose. 

Alternatively, you can create customized templates to suit your specific needs Which as a default will be stored in the custom Office templates folder on your OneDrive. 

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Paul Smart