A CSV File is a text file that contains data that is separated by commas as a delimiter. The acronym CSV expands into Comma Separated Values. These files are used to store tabular data. Each record that is stored in a CSV file is contained in a line of data where different fields have been separated by commas. These files have many uses as the file format is extremely convenient for transferring data (import and export) in Excel Spreadsheets and databases.  

What is the CSV file format?

The file extension for CSV files is ‘.csv’. As already mentioned above, it helps in saving the data in a structured tabular format. But it should not be confused with a ‘.xls’ or Excel file. Since most of the data import and export can be displayed in Excel file format, it is natural that both of these could be confused or used interchangeably. But the basic difference between these two file formats is that a ‘.csv’ file has textual data with fields separated by commas. On the other hand, in the ‘.xls’ file, the data is stored in rows and columns. Excel files are also able to save formulas, whereas CSV files are incapable of doing that. CSV file format is just a flat-line format that can store data. 

Why are .csv files used? 

CSV files are regularly used for different purposes in business. They aid organizations in exporting bulk data (incredibly high volumes of data) to a database(s) with even higher data concentration. Other advantages of using ‘.csv’ files are:

  • The website developer can easily create a CSV format because it is a plain text file.
  • They are extremely lightweight, making them easier to import or export into a spreadsheet or as a spreadsheet. It can be sent to another storage database, irrespective of the software used by the client. 
  • ‘.csv’ files are easy to organize copious amounts of data, so you can store them in the best way possible and also access them through simpler methods.

Due to these reasons, CSV files are extensively used in online businesses and e-commerce stores.

What does a sample CSV file look like?

A CSV file does not look like anything that is too complex to understand. Let us explain it to you with the help of an example.

Product, Size, Color, Price

Shirt, Large, Pink, $14

Shirt, Medium, Blue, $15

Pants, Small, Cargo, $23

In the first row of data, you can see the heads of the columns that follow in the subsequent rows. The product could either be a shirt or pants. The size could be small, medium or large. The color could be anything in textual format. The price is the combination of a special character and numerical values. This is the format of a CSV file. A sample CSV file looks like the picture given below:

CSV format in notepad.

We hope, now, you will find your concepts clearer about CSV files. 

How to open a CSV file in Microsoft Excel?

  1. Open an MS Excel Spreadsheet. Have a look at the ribbon on top. Then find the File tab and click on it. A pop-up sub-menu will be displayed. Then click on Open.
  2. Click on Browse and then the File Explorer box will. You need to click on the drop-down menu to the right bottom-hand of the box near the File name field. Normally, the default value here is ‘All Excel Files’. You need to change it to All Files.
  3. Go where the CSV file has been stored. Select it.

Note: You can also change the delimiter from comma to semicolon or as you prefer.

This is the entire procedure to open a CSV file in Microsoft Excel. You can also open a CSV file in Google Sheets and as a .txt file.

How to create a CSV file from excel?

It is extremely easy to create a CSV file from an Excel spreadsheet. Follow the steps given below for accomplishing this goal: 

  1. First, you need to go to the File tab and Open the Excel document you want to convert into a CSV.
  2. After opening the file, you need to navigate to the File tab menu and select Save As from it. Choose the Other Formats option after that.
  3. After that, you need to change the File Format. You can either select Text (Tab delimited) or CSV (Comma delimited). Choose CSV (Comma delimited). Pick the location you want to save the file. Navigate to that specific location, give the file the desired name, and then click on Save.

This is the way you can make a CSV file from an Excel (.xls) file wasn't making and converting '.xls' files an easy thing? But it can be quite burdensome if you have to perform this action on thousands of files. To save yourself from wasting time and effort, you can use Foresight. Foresight is an excellent tool for performing repetitive work and actions in Google Workspace. Foresight can import and export different data related to Google Admin, like exporting devices, active or suspended group members, or exporting groups list, etc. Foresight also helps to bulk export Google sheets as CSV and bulk upload CSV to google sheets. You can also check out our popular blog, "How to Export Google Sheets as CSV".