Excel files can be converted to CSV using:

$ libreoffice --convert-to csv --headless --outdir dir file.xlsx

Everything appears to work just fine. The encoding, though, is set to something wonky. Instead of a UTF-8 mdash (—) that I get if I do a "save as" manually from LibreOffice Calc, it gives me a \227 (�). Using file on the CSV gives me "Non-ISO extended-ASCII text, with very long lines". So, two questions:

  1. What on earth is happening here?
  2. How do I tell libreoffice to convert to UTF-8?

The specific file that I'm trying to convert is here.

2 Answers 2


Apparently LibreOffice tries to use ISO-8859-1 by default, which is causing the problem. In response to this bug report, a new parameter --infilter has been added. The following command produces U+2014 em dash:

libreoffice  --convert-to csv --infilter=CSV:44,34,76,1 --headless --outdir dir file.xlsx

I tested this with LO From the bug report, it looks like the earliest version containing this option is LO 4.4.

See also: https://ask.libreoffice.org/en/question/13008/how-do-i-specify-an-input-character-coding-for-a-convert-to-command-line-usage/

  • Thanks! Still no success though. With this command line: libreoffice --headless --convert-to csv --infilter=CSV:44,34,76,1 file.xlsx --outdir dir; it's still got 0x97 for the em dash. I'm baffled. I'm running LO 420m0(Build:2) on Ubuntu 14.04. Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 22:00
  • You probably need to upgrade to LO 4.4 or newer, as mentioned in my answer.
    – Jim K
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 22:11
  • 1
    loffice --convert-to xlsx --infilter=csv:44,34,76 input.csv worked for me. Reference.
    – Adobe
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 14:22
  • Do you have a link where these infilter options are listed ? The link posted by @Adobe is long outdated.
    – kebs
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 14:51
  • --infilter seems to be about the input file and that would be why @Adobe 's command works (CSV input) and the OP's command (XLSX input) doesn't - just a guess
    – golimar
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 16:43

You could try,

    $ libreoffice --convert-to \
    > csv:"Text - txt - csv (StarCalc)":"44,34,0,1,,0" \
    > --headless --outdir dir file.xlsx 

Here, you have a very detailed help about.

  • Thanks for the reply. I'm still not getting it to accept the additional tokens. I've tried --convert-to "csv:Text - txt - csv (StarCalc):44,34,76,1,,0", --convert-to "csv:Text - txt - csv (StarCalc):44,34,76,1,1/2/2/2/3/2/4/2/5/2/6/2/7/2/8/2/9/1/10/3" and various other combinations. Any suggestions? Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 21:54
  • csv:"Text - txt - csv (StarCalc)":"44,34,0,1,,0", csv:"double quoted":"double quoted"
    – xae
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 21:59
  • That's only going to be relative to the shell, but I tried it anyway with the same results. Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 22:03
  • Here are using unoconv and directly soffice for a related task,maybe could help.
    – xae
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 22:08

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