What is a CSV file?

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What is a CSV file?
A CSV file is a file with “Comma Separated Values”. When you look at this file in plain text, one record is indicated per line and the fields on this record are each separated with a comma.

Commonly CSV files are used in importing or exporting data in tables between two applications or programs. This is especially helpful if the data involved is high-volume, like in databases and spreadsheets. One also doesn’t have to worry on the file types between the two programs. A typical example is exporting an Excel spreadsheet containing a person’s contacts phone and address information to a particular database program. This particular spreadsheet may be saved as a CSV file from Excel and may be imported as a database file using another program like Microsoft Access or FileMaker.

CSV files can also be a big help when a person wants a format similar to spreadsheets but in text form. So instead of having to type and manually format lines and tables on a Text program, one can easily open a CSV file with the Text program and all the details will be shown without losing the format.

Creating CSV files from a basic Excel spreadsheet is easy. When the spreadsheet is open, a person just needs to select the File and Save as Menu and choose the type of file from the drop-down list. In this case, one should choose CSV file or “Comma-delimited file”. Opening a file with .CSV extension is also easy and possible with spreadsheet programs like Excel. For computers wherein CSV files are already linked or “associated” with Excel as the program for handling this type, the user will just double-click on the CSV file and it will automatically open with the Excel program.

CSV file formatting is clearly evident when the file is opened in a text program like Microsoft Word. Basic text editors like Notepad and TextEdit can also be used to open CSV files and may help in checking the format if there are extra commas or extra quotation marks which may affect the file formatting. For those without spreadsheet and text programs, one can also open CSV files and view them as HTML. Using this option though may result in some minor format issues.

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