How can I create a map from my Excel data in Surfer?

You can create a variety of map types from data in an Excel file or other tabular data file (CSV, DAT, etc.) in Surfer. How you do it depends on what type of data you have and the type of map you want to create.

XYZ data
If your data file has XYZ data and you would like to create a contour map, or other map type, follow these steps:

  1. Click Home | Grid Data, select the data file and click Open.
  2. In the Grid Data dialog, select the X, Y and Z columns from the data file, and choose any gridding options you want (or accept the defaults). Click OK. That will create a grid file from your data. You can use this grid file to create maps.
  3. For example, click Home | New Map | Contour (or whichever map type you want to create), select the grid file and click Open. The map is created.
  4. Select the map layer in the Contents window and edit the properties of the map in the Properties window.

XY data
If the Excel file contains point data (each XY coordinate pair in the data file is an individual point), you can create a post map.

  1. Click Home | New Map | Post | Post (or Classed Post), select your data file and click Open. A post map is created.
  2. Select the Post map layer in the Contents window and edit the properties of the map in the Properties window. For example, you can label the point with another column in the data file if you wish.

If you wish to create a map showing some information about the XY data points, such as the density or number of points in a search area, you can grid this data as above, only use the Data Metrics gridding method, setting the metric you wish to grid in the Advanced Options. In this case, you do not need a Z value since the Z value is calculated from the XY data points. In the Grid Data dialog, you set the Z column to either the X or Y data column. Since you aren't gridding this Z column, it doesn't matter which column is selected.

XY data for polylines/polygons
If the Excel file contains the XY coordinates of polylines or polygons and you want to load the data as a base map, I suggest you convert the Excel file to BLN format. The BLN file format is a simple ASCII text data file, consisting of a one line header followed by point data.

Click File | Open in Surfer and open the XLS file in the Surfer worksheet and add a one-line header at the top with the number of vertices in the polyline/polygon. If the points define a polygon, be sure the first and last set of coordinates are exactly the same (you may need to copy the first set of coordinates and paste to the bottom of the list).

You can have multiple polylines/polygons defined in one file, as long as each has its own header line. For example:

5      <-- start of polygon
0,0   <-- repeat of the first set of coordinates for the polygon
2      <-- start of polyline

Click File | Save As and save as a BLN file. You can then click Home | New Map | Base, select the BLN file and click Open. The base map is created showing the objects contained in the BLN file.

For additional information about creating a BLN file see: How Can I Create A BLN File In Surfer?


Updated February 3, 2017

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