Troubleshooting Input Files

Microtitre plate readers can all export their results as Excel files, but the formats of those files vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even from model to model and software version from the same manufacturer. This causes a problem when it comes to using their output as input to the program GrowthRates, which requires a specific input format in order to calculate growth rates and other growth parameters from OD vs time information.

Translating plate reader output formats to the input format required by GrowthRates would be a serious barrier to using GrowthRates, so GrowthRates includes formatters for 14 different plate readers. The formatter, chosen from a menu when GrowthRates is run, translates the plate reader format into the standard GrowthRates format.

The first time that GrowthRates is used the user needs to determine which format is appropriate for the plate reader that was used. Usually that is as simple as picking the formatter from a menu, but as different models are released the choice may not be obvious.

On our main Support page of the BRI website, you’ll find a section called Input File Formats, where you can download a folder of plate reader formats as Excel files and a second folder of the same formats as text files. Those files can be compared with the output from your plate reader if you are unsure which format to choose.

Your Plate Reader is not Listed

If you are lucky, your plate reader may already save its output in the standard format. Open either the Excel or the text version of the Standard file and compare it with your file. If they are identical just choose Standard from the Formats menu.

If you are less lucky, your plate reader is from a manufacturer listed on the menu but is a different model. Compare the files from that manufacturer with your file. If one is identical use that format in GrowthRates. If it works, send us a message at and tell us the manufacturer, model and software version of your reader and the menu choice that worked for you.

If it does not work, or there is simply no instrument listed that corresponds to your plate reader then please email us at and include the following information: 

  • the make and model of your plate reader
  • the version of your plate reader software
  • your computer operating system

Then attach an output file from a growth experiment. BRI will use your information to write a formatter for that machine and include it in an updated version of GrowthRates.

Your Plate Reader is Listed in the Menu, but the Formatter Doesn’t Work with Your Output

“Doesn’t work” could either mean that GrowthRates hangs up after you choose the formatter, or that it seems to work but produces nonsensical or no output.

One of several things could be going on:

  • The manufacturer has changed to output format but kept the same model name.
  • In setting up the run, you modified the standard output so that it is more convenient for you, but now it doesn’t work.

In the first case, BRI will need to write a new formatter, so please send the same information as requested above, but be sure to include the software name and version number so we can tell users how to choose the correct format.

The second case can arise because, especially recently, plate reader software offers a variety of output options and modifications to those options. The formatter that BRI wrote was based on an output file that a user sent to us. If you make different output choices, your output won’t translate correctly.  Obviously, we cannot write a formatter for every possible combination of choices the user might make.  So, it will be up to you to try to duplicate the output settings in the file on the Input Formats page. If you can describe the correct choices to us, BRI can include that information on the Input Formats page for others to use.

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