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How to Import a CSV File

Updated on July 16, 2015

What is a CSV File?

CSV means Comma Separated Value. This is because the format uses commas to separate the data. This will be discussed a bit later. A CSV file is a format that data is provided to you in. It could be anything from bank statements to statistics about projects or customer accounts.

When Will I Need to Import a CSV File?

There will come a time that you need to Import a CSV file. Numerous systems use CSV files, including Hubpages!

Here are some other situations where you might end up with a CSV file:

  • Examining Customer Account Performance
  • Bank statements
  • Quicken
  • Reports from companies you do business with
  • Google Adsense
  • Google Analytics
  • Hubpages Reports

There are tons of times that you might be provided a CSV file, and other times you will have the option to get a CSV file.

Why would you CHOOSE a CSV file when there are other more readable formats like PDF? Because CSV files rock! I'll be a bit more specific though. CSV files allow you to manipulate the data in your spreadsheet program.

Have you ever tried manipulating data in a PDF file? Chances are you can't! You can import CSV data into Excel and sort, filter, and alter to your hearts content. You can't do that with a PDF report. This is why you might choose a CSV file over another format.

Example CSV File

For example, you might be provided a file that contains something simple like this:

Date,Deposit,Fees,Net Amount
Jan 12,100,5,95
Jan 13,250,20,230
Jan 16,540,35,505

If you wanted to, you could copy this data and paste it into Notepad and save it to your desktop as "example.csv" and practice importing it like I do in the video above.

Looking at the data, you can probably already determine what it means, but bigger sets of data quickly become hard to read. If you import this data properly, it should look something like this:

Example Imported CSV Data

Net Amount
Jan 12
Jan 13
Jan 16
This is how the provided example CSV file should look when imported into your CSV editor.

CSV Editor

In order to open a CSV file, you need a CSV editor. If you think you don't have a CSV editor, don't worry, chances are you have one.

The most popular CSV editor is Microsoft Excel, which I used in the video above. If you don't have Microsoft Excel, then here are some other free applications that can be used as a CSV editor:

Why Import a CSV File?

So why should you import a CSV file rather that just double-click the file and let your spreadsheet program open it?

There is one primary reason: your spreadsheet program may not know how to handle certain things like large numbers.

In my video above, I show you how Microsoft Excel took one of my large numbers and turned it into a super unfriendly exponential notation number, and even rounded the last 5 digits off!

This might be manageable if you're working with financial numbers where you need ball park estimates, but what if those long numbers are your invoice numbers, or your customer account numbers? All of a sudden, Excel changing numbers on you can make a 5 minute task into a multi-hour odyssey.

Importing the data, as I do in the video, prevents this from happening, and saves you the headaches of billing the wrong customers, or providing the wrong totals.

I hope this tutorial has helped you, and if you have any questions, let me know in the comments!


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    • debris profile image

      debris 3 years ago from Florida

      The file extension must be ".csv". In Excel, go to "Save As" and select MS-DOS CSV.

    • DeoMor profile image

      Deonne Morris 4 years ago from Earth

      Thanks for the post. How do I verify that my file is a csv file? I have an MS and pdf file that I tried uploading to my hubpage but couldn't because they weren't in the csv format. How do I resolve that?