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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 grid-based 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 the Excel file contains point data with attributes, you may wish to create a base map from the data file.

  1. Click Home | New Map | Base | Base from Data, select your data file and click Open.
  2. Specify the X and Y columns in the Base from XY Data dialog and click OK. A base map is created.
  3. Select the Base(vector) map layer in the Contents window and edit the properties of the map in the Properties window. For example, you can label the points with another column in the data file or apply a symbology to the points.

 

The base from data, post, and classed post layer types use XY data files to create map layers. Post and classed post layers are a single object, and therefore post and classed post maps use less memory and are faster to render. Post or classed post maps should be used for large data files. Post and classed post maps have more control over labels and can be included in legends. Base layers include each point as an object. These point objects can be edited and queried after creating the base layer. The points in the base layer also retain attribute information and a symbology can be applied to the base layer.

 

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, selecting one of the Data Location Statistics metrics in the Advanced Options. You do not need a Z value in the data file for the Data Location Statistics metrics since the grid Z values are 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
1,0
1,1
0,1
0,0   <-- repeat of the first set of coordinates for the polygon
2      <-- start of polyline
0,0
1,1

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 November 2, 2017

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