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I recently experienced this (assuming I understand the queston properly) and think I have an idea about what's going on. Information:

$ uname -a Linux hostname 3.8.3-2-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Sun Mar 17 13:04:22 CET 2013 x86_64 GNU/Linux

$ libreoffice --version LibreOffice

I believe that for some reason, some cell in distant rows/columns gets registered as containing a value, despite being blank. When exporting to xlsx, I think Libreoffice is storing some sort of value in all columns/rows up to that distant cell. Alternatively LO is potentially storing some sort of data in all blank rows/columns instead of just leaving them absent when exporting.

I suspect this, as on a hunch I selected the first blank column of my data and did Ctrl + Shift + Right Arrow. This selects all columns up to AMJ. Then right click and choose "Delete columns."

Repeat for rows and do Ctrl + Shift + Down Arrow and delete all blank rows.

I then did "Save as..." from .ods -> .xlsx successfully.

  • Before doing this: ~20kb .ods saves as 3.4mb .xlsx
  • After deleting blank rows/columns as described above, I get a ~21kb .xlsx instead.