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Without a doubt, Microsoft Office Excel is currently the most common spreadsheet application being used to import and export tabular data. Yet before Excel spreadsheets became a pseudo-standard, it was the CSV file format that was being used to exchange the same data.

What Is CSV?

The CSV file format is a Comma Separated Values File type that stores tabular data by using delimiters (characters designated to separate fields of data from one another). In this case, the CSV format mainly uses commas and double-quotes as delimiters. The CSV file, in short, is a basic way of expressing tabular data in a textual format without the formatted structure of a table.

Note that because of their simple textual formatting, CSV files can be opened within simple text editors and can be easily transmitted and supported by a number of spreadsheet applications and databases. The CSV format, in other words, is ideal as a data exchange format.

CSV and Microsoft Excel

You can convert your Excel files to the simpler CSV format within the Microsoft Excel application by using the Save As option. You can then access the Save As dialogue box which contains a list of alternative file formats.

XLS to CSV

Among the file extensions offered, Microsoft Excel gives you the option of converting to Macintosh, MS-DOS or Delimited CSV file formats. By saving your file into any of these CSV formats, Microsoft Excel will export the first active Excel worksheet with the correct delimiters.

Importing CSV into Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice and LibreOffice

Data can be imported into any of these software options very easy. Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice automatically start an import procedure once a file of this format is opened. In Excel, the data import process has to be started by going to Data – Import from Text.  We have written a more detailed blog about how to import CSV contacts into Excel.