So, it happens that I was opening a simple Microsoft Excel xls spreadsheet containing some data feeds. Up came this uninvited error message box telling me that “Cell Data Too Large”. Very “informative” indeed.
Browsing thorugh the help file helped me get to this:
Length of cell contents (text) 32,767 characters.
Only 1,024 display in a cell; all 32,767 display in the formula bar
So it’s really the total number of characters in a cell that’s causing the problem. But it seems to apply only on xls file.
I dump the same data to a CSV file from the database. CSV is simply a comma seperated values (ex. i, am, david) text file, while XLS is a binary file (you will see strange text if you open it using notepad).
And after doing that, the CSV opens up fine with no complaints at all.
May be worth mentioning that these limits have been increased since this was written. Excel 2013 still complains about 1MB in a single cell, but not 32KB. The limit may be anywhere in between.