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although matlab programmers are loath to admit it, there are circumstances during which we are forced to use excel. in such trying times, here’s a quick script that i found on matlab central for copying an array in an excel-readable format onto the clipboard. to use it, save the code below the asterisks as num2clip.m. then, when you need to move an array into excel, call in matlab:

>> num2clip(my_array)

next, open up excel, go to “edit” and click on paste. that easy!


here’s the code to save in num2clip:

function arraystring = num2clip(array)
%NUM2CLIP copies a numerical-array to the clipboard
% Copies the numerical array ARRAY to the clipboard as a tab-separated
% string. This format is suitable for direct pasting to Excel and other
% programs.
% The tab-separated result is returned as ARRAYSTRING. This
% functionality has been included for completeness.
%Author: Grigor Browning
%Last update: 02-Sept-2005

%convert the numerical array to a string array
%note that num2str pads the output array with space characters to account
%for differing numbers of digits in each index entry
arraystring = num2str(array);
arraystring(:,end+1) = char(10); %add a carrige return to the end of each row
%reshape the array to a single line
%note that the reshape function reshape is column based so to reshape by
%rows one must use the inverse of the matrix
arraystring = reshape(arraystring’,1,prod(size(arraystring))); %reshape the array to a single line

arraystringshift = [' ',arraystring]; %create a copy of arraystring shifted right by one space character
arraystring = [arraystring,' ']; %add a space to the end of arraystring to make it the same length as arraystringshift

%now remove the additional space charaters – keeping a single space
%charater after each ‘numerical’ entry
arraystring = arraystring((double(arraystring)~=32 | double(arraystringshift)~=32) & ~(double(arraystringshift==10) & double(arraystring)==32) );

arraystring(double(arraystring)==32) = char(9); %convert the space characters to tab characters

clipboard(‘copy’,arraystring); %copy the result to the clipboard ready for pasting

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if that was helpful ...

check out the other tips and tricks i've compiled on these pages. you might learn something else interesting!

9 Responses to “copy a matlab array into excel”

  1. on 10 Feb 2008 at 11:41 pm Eric

    Hey check it. You can actually just display the array in the command window and select all of the array and do a command-c (copy). Then command-v (paste) into excel. Amazingly this works !!

    Also matlab can open excel files from it’s current directory browser. So you can grab a variable and open it in excel that way.

  2. on 01 Apr 2008 at 8:55 pm V

    You’re amazing. This is great for doing calculations in MATLAB then making it into a format where the administration can understand it.
    Thanks mate

  3. on 29 Oct 2008 at 2:03 pm Rick

    I get this error:

    ??? Error: File: num2clip.m Line: 24 Column: 38
    The input character is not valid in MATLAB statements or expressions.

  4. on 28 Jan 2009 at 12:10 pm Daniel

    ’ <– replace by ‘

    Then it should work.

    Thank you very much. This is a good blog.

  5. on 22 Apr 2009 at 4:21 am Anjel

    great script! thanks!

  6. on 11 Feb 2010 at 6:28 am JV

    Hi, nice script. Isn’t this the same as the “clipboard” matlab function?


  7. on 06 Jul 2011 at 7:51 am Barney

    Legen…wait for it…DARY!

  8. on 29 Jan 2014 at 5:41 am kerem basaran

    This was just about to save me from a lot of hassle but it didn’t work.

    arraystring = reshape(arraystring,1,prod(size(arraystring))); %reshape the array to a single line

    line has a problem I guess.

    >> a=magic(2)
    a =
    1 3
    4 2
    >> num2clip(a)
    ans =
    14 32

    When I paste the data in Excel, I get only a single row as seen in the “ans”

  9. on 04 Feb 2014 at 2:43 pm Gregg

    The function num2clip does not exist in current versions of MATLAB.

Did I get this wrong? Let me know!

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