Configuration for CSV

It is possible to configure both the CSV reader and writer to adapt them to your requirements:

use Box\Spout\Reader\Common\Creator\ReaderEntityFactory;

$reader = ReaderEntityFactory::createReaderFromFile('/path/to/file.csv');
/** All of these methods have to be called before opening the reader. */

Additionally, if you need to read non UTF-8 files, you can specify the encoding of your file this way:


By default, the writer generates CSV files encoded in UTF-8, with a BOM. It is however possible to not include the BOM:

use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\WriterEntityFactory;

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createWriterFromFile('/path/to/file.csv');

Configuration for XLSX and ODS

New sheet creation

It is possible to change the behavior of the writers when the maximum number of rows (1,048,576) has been written in the current sheet. By default, a new sheet is automatically created so that writing can keep going but that may not always be preferable.

use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\WriterEntityFactory;

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createODSWriter();
$writer->setShouldCreateNewSheetsAutomatically(true); // default value
$writer->setShouldCreateNewSheetsAutomatically(false); // will stop writing new data when limit is reached

Using a custom temporary folder

Processing XLSX and ODS files requires temporary files to be created. By default, Spout will use the system default temporary folder (as returned by sys_get_temp_dir()). It is possible to override this by explicitly setting it on the reader or writer:

use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\WriterEntityFactory;

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createXLSXWriter();

Strings storage (XLSX writer)

XLSX files support different ways to store the string values:

  • Shared strings are meant to optimize file size by separating strings from the sheet representation and ignoring strings duplicates (if a string is used three times, only one string will be stored)
  • Inline strings are less optimized (as duplicate strings are all stored) but is faster to process

In order to keep the memory usage really low, Spout does not de-duplicate strings when using shared strings. It is nevertheless possible to use this mode.

use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\WriterEntityFactory;

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createXLSXWriter();
$writer->setShouldUseInlineStrings(true); // default (and recommended) value
$writer->setShouldUseInlineStrings(false); // will use shared strings

Note on Apple Numbers and iOS support

Apple’s products (Numbers and the iOS previewer) don’t support inline strings and display empty cells instead. Therefore, if these platforms need to be supported, make sure to use shared strings!

Date/Time formatting

When reading a spreadsheet containing dates or times, Spout returns the values by default as DateTime objects. It is possible to change this behavior and have a formatted date returned instead (e.g. “2016-11-29 1:22 AM”). The format of the date corresponds to what is specified in the spreadsheet.

use Box\Spout\Reader\Common\Creator\ReaderEntityFactory;

$reader = ReaderEntityFactory::createXLSXReader();
$reader->setShouldFormatDates(false); // default value
$reader->setShouldFormatDates(true); // will return formatted dates

Empty rows

By default, when Spout reads a spreadsheet it skips empty rows and only return rows containing data. This behavior can be changed so that Spout returns all rows:

use Box\Spout\Reader\Common\Creator\ReaderEntityFactory;

$reader = ReaderEntityFactory::createReaderFromFile('/path/to/file.ext');


Available styles

Spout supports styling at a row and cell level. It is possible to customize the fonts, backgrounds, alignment as well as borders.

For fonts and alignments, Spout does not support all the possible formatting options yet. But you can find the most important ones:

Category Property API
Font Bold StyleBuilder::setFontBold()
  Italic StyleBuilder::setFontItalic()
  Underline StyleBuilder::setFontUnderline()
  Strikethrough StyleBuilder::setFontStrikethrough()
  Font name StyleBuilder::setFontName('Arial')
  Font size StyleBuilder::setFontSize(14)
  Font color StyleBuilder::setFontColor(Color::BLUE)
StyleBuilder::setFontColor(Color::rgb(0, 128, 255))
Alignment Cell alignment StyleBuilder::setCellAlignment(CellAlignment::CENTER)
  Wrap text StyleBuilder::setShouldWrapText(true)
Format (XLSX only) Number format StyleBuilder::setFormat('0.000')
  Date format StyleBuilder::setFormat('m/d/yy h:mm')

Styling rows

It is possible to apply some formatting options to a row. In this case, all cells of the row will have the same style:

use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\WriterEntityFactory;
use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\Style\StyleBuilder;
use Box\Spout\Common\Entity\Style\CellAlignment;
use Box\Spout\Common\Entity\Style\Color;

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createXLSXWriter();

/** Create a style with the StyleBuilder */
$style = (new StyleBuilder())

/** Create a row with cells and apply the style to all cells */
$row = WriterEntityFactory::createRowFromArray(['Carl', 'is', 'great'], $style);

/** Add the row to the writer */

Adding borders to a row requires a Border object.

use Box\Spout\Common\Entity\Style\Border;
use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\Style\BorderBuilder;
use Box\Spout\Common\Entity\Style\Color;
use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\Style\StyleBuilder;
use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\WriterEntityFactory;

$border = (new BorderBuilder())
    ->setBorderBottom(Color::GREEN, Border::WIDTH_THIN, Border::STYLE_DASHED)

$style = (new StyleBuilder())

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createXLSXWriter();

$cells = WriterEntityFactory::createCell('Border Bottom Green Thin Dashed');
$row = WriterEntityFactory::createRow($cells);


Styling cells

The same styling techniques as described in Styling rows can be applied to individual cells of a row as well.

Cell styles are inherited from the parent row and the default row style respectively.

The styles applied to a specific cell will override any parent styles if present.


use Box\Spout\Common\Entity\Style\Color;
use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\Style\StyleBuilder;
use Box\Spout\Writer\Common\Creator\WriterEntityFactory;

$defaultStyle = (new StyleBuilder())

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createXLSXWriter();

$zebraBlackStyle = (new StyleBuilder())

$zebraWhiteStyle = (new StyleBuilder())

$cells = [
    WriterEntityFactory::createCell('Ze', $zebraBlackStyle),
    WriterEntityFactory::createCell('bra', $zebraWhiteStyle)

$rowStyle = (new StyleBuilder())

$row = WriterEntityFactory::createRow($cells, $rowStyle);


Default style

Spout will use a default style for all created rows. This style can be overridden this way:

$defaultStyle = (new StyleBuilder())

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createXLSXWriter();

Playing with sheets

When creating a XLSX or ODS file, it is possible to control which sheet the data will be written into. At any time, you can retrieve or set the current sheet:

$firstSheet = $writer->getCurrentSheet();
$writer->addRow($rowForSheet1); // writes the row to the first sheet

$newSheet = $writer->addNewSheetAndMakeItCurrent();
$writer->addRow($rowForSheet2); // writes the row to the new sheet

$writer->addRow($anotherRowForSheet1); // append the row to the first sheet

It is also possible to retrieve all the sheets currently created:

$sheets = $writer->getSheets();

It is possible to retrieve some sheet’s attributes when reading:

foreach ($reader->getSheetIterator() as $sheet) {
    $sheetName = $sheet->getName();
    $isSheetVisible = $sheet->isVisible();
    $isSheetActive = $sheet->isActive(); // active sheet when spreadsheet last saved

If you rely on the sheet’s name in your application, you can customize it this way:

// Accessing the sheet name when writing
$sheet = $writer->getCurrentSheet();
$sheetName = $sheet->getName();

// Customizing the sheet name when writing
$sheet = $writer->getCurrentSheet();
$sheet->setName('My custom name');

Please note that Excel has some restrictions on the sheet’s name:

  • it must not be blank
  • it must not exceed 31 characters
  • it must not contain these characters: \ / ? * : [ or ]
  • it must not start or end with a single quote
  • it must be unique

Handling these restrictions is the developer’s responsibility. Spout does not try to automatically change the sheet’s name, as one may rely on this name to be exactly what was passed in.

Fluent interface

Because fluent interfaces are great, you can use them with Spout:

use Box\Spout\Writer\WriterEntityFactory;

$writer = WriterEntityFactory::createWriterFromFile('path/to/file.ext');