How do I read Excel file?

In this example we demonstrate how to read data from an Excel file. In this example we limit to read a string data only. After reading the data, iterating the each rows and cells of the Excel file we display the content to the program console.

package org.kodejava.example.poi;

import org.apache.poi.hssf.usermodel.HSSFCell;
import org.apache.poi.hssf.usermodel.HSSFRow;
import org.apache.poi.hssf.usermodel.HSSFSheet;
import org.apache.poi.hssf.usermodel.HSSFWorkbook;

import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.Iterator;
import java.util.List;

public class ExcelReadExample {

    public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
        // An excel file name. You can create a file name with a full 
        // path information.
        String filename = "..\data.xls";

        // Create an ArrayList to store the data read from excel sheet.
        List sheetData = new ArrayList();

        FileInputStream fis = null;
        try {
            // Create a FileInputStream that will be use to read the 
            // excel file.
            fis = new FileInputStream(filename);

            // Create an excel workbook from the file system.
            HSSFWorkbook workbook = new HSSFWorkbook(fis);
            // Get the first sheet on the workbook.
            HSSFSheet sheet = workbook.getSheetAt(0);

            // When we have a sheet object in hand we can iterator on 
            // each sheet's rows and on each row's cells. We store the 
            // data read on an ArrayList so that we can printed the 
            // content of the excel to the console.
            Iterator rows = sheet.rowIterator();
            while (rows.hasNext()) {
                HSSFRow row = (HSSFRow);
                Iterator cells = row.cellIterator();

                List data = new ArrayList();
                while (cells.hasNext()) {
                    HSSFCell cell = (HSSFCell);

        } catch (IOException e) {
        } finally {
            if (fis != null) {


    private static void showExcelData(List sheetData) {
        // Iterates the data and print it out to the console.
        for (int i = 0; i < sheetData.size(); i++) {
            List list = (List) sheetData.get(i);
            for (int j = 0; j < list.size(); j++) {
                HSSFCell cell = (HSSFCell) list.get(j);
                if (j < list.size() - 1) {
                    System.out.print(", ");

Our program above print out the following lines:

A, A, A, A, A, A, A, A, A, A
B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B
C, C, C, C, C, C, C, C, C, C
D, D, D, D, D, D, D, D, D, D
E, E, E, E, E, E, E, E, E, E
F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F
G, G, G, G, G, G, G, G, G, G
H, H, H, H, H, H, H, H, H, H
I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I
J, J, J, J, J, J, J, J, J, J

Wayan Saryada

Programmer, runner, recreational diver, currently living in the island of Bali, Indonesia. Mostly programming in Java, creating web based application with Spring Framework, Hibernate / JPA.

Leave a Reply