Microsoft Excel CSV File Export

How to export Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet XLS to CSV

Written by Kirill Vasilyev on July 27, 2010 at 9:00 AM

In this article, I will teach you how to export any Microsoft Excel spreadsheet XLS to CSV file. CSV file format is pretty standardized and can be used with almost any software that has file import feature. You can use CSV format to transfer database information between several software products or use it to backup information you have in your software products.

CSV is always a plain text file, normally in unicode UTF-8 or UTF-16 text encoding. Every line of the file represents one record (a single customer record) that contains information about your customer in the form of data fields (such as name, email address, phone number, etc.) separated by a comma(normally), semicolon or TAB.

If your spreadsheet contains customers with Order, Name, Email, Product and Website columns, your CSV file would look as pictured below:

CSV file format example 1


CSV file format example 2

Note that the second example contains quotes around the data fields. The quote character is called Qualifier. Some spreadsheet processors add it for better clarity in case if commas are used in the fields. Normally, either quotes or apostrophes are used as qualifiers. Comma here is called Field Separation Character or delimiter. It can be comma, semicolon or TAB. By default Microsoft Office Excel uses comma as delimiter and does not use any qualifiers.

How to create a CSV file in Microsoft Excel

If you have Microsoft Excel on your Mac and have your spreadsheets in .XLS format, then follow the steps below to convert XLS to CSV file.

1. Start Microsoft Excel.
2. Open your XLS spreadsheet file.
3. Use the File->Save As… command in the main menu to open the Save dialog box.

Convert XLS to CSV using Save As Dialog in Microsoft Excel

4. When the Save dialog box is open, specify the file format as Comma Separated Values (.csv) using the Format combo box.

Specifying CSV File Format in Microsoft Excel

5. Specify file name and location using the Save As and Where boxes in the Save dialog box. The correct file extension for a CSV file would be .csv shown by default.

Specifying Name of CSV File in Microsoft Excel

6. Press the Save button and in a few seconds Microsoft Excel will create CSV file at the location you have specified.

CSV File Shown in Finder

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