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How to Create a CSV File in Excel (A Ultimate Guide)

November 10, 2023 833 views

Many companies use CSV files for data storage since it consumes less memory than Excel files. Therefore, it is a good tool for e-commerce. However, many freshmen in the workplace may not know much about CSV files, so they need to learn more about it and how to create it in Excel.

In the following article, we will introduce you to a CSV file and how to create a CSV file in Excel.

What is a CSV file?

CSV (Comma-Separated Values) files are a widely used and simple format for storing tabular data. This includes spreadsheets and databases. They offer a simple way to represent structured information in a plain text format.

This makes them compatible with a wide range of software applications. In a CSV file, each line represents a record, and within each line, values are separated by commas. Other punctuation marks like semicolons and colons can also be included in these files.

The Function of CSV Files

CSV files are used to exchange and store data between different software programs, systems, and platforms. They are particularly useful for tasks involving data migration, data integration, and data sharing. The basic structure of a CSV file includes rows and columns, just like a normal Excel file.

The only difference is that each row corresponds to a record in CSV files, and each column contains a specific data field. This tabular structure allows for easy organization and manipulation of data.

Advantages

  • CSV files have a straightforward structure, making them easy to create, read, and edit using various software tools.

  • CSV files are compatible with a wide range of software applications, including spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel.

  • These files are lightweight, as they consist of plain text data without complex formatting or embedded objects.

  • You can use these files on multiple platforms because of their simple, plain text format.

Despite these advantages, CSV files have some limitations, such as limited support for data types and a lack of structure beyond rows and columns.

Methods of Creating a CSV File in Excel

Step 1: To create a CSV file in Excel, you will have to first open the Microsoft Excel workbook on your PC or Mac. Once you have opened the program, there are two options. Either you can create a new file with data in it or open an already-made file to convert it to CSV.

In this case, we will open a file from our PC. Go to the Home tab on the header and click Open to open an Excel file from your PC.

”MS Excel workbook”


Step 2: The file will be opened in Microsoft Excel, where you can now convert it to a CSV file.

”Excel Workbook data”


Step 3: To create a CSV file out of this file, go to the Home tab and then click Save As. It will save your file in the folder you want.

”Excel Save As function”


Step 4: You will be provided with another screen where you will have to choose a location you want to save the file in. After choosing the location, in the file type section, choose CSV file format and click Save. Your CSV file will be saved in the destination folder.

”Excel Save CSV file”


After saving the Excel file as CSV, you will be able to use it wherever and however you want. You can also share this file with others.

Solutions to Some Problems in Creating a CSV File in Excel

Below here, we have listed down some of the problems you may face in creating a CSV file in Excel. You can solve these problems by following the solutions mentioned here as well:

Data Formatting Issues

Excel may apply its own formatting to data, such as date formats or numeric formatting, which can cause inconsistencies when viewed in other software.

”CSV file on notepad”


Solution:

The solution to this problem is that before saving as a CSV, ensure that data is properly formatted according to the desired conventions. For example, format dates consistently and remove unnecessary formatting from numeric data.

Text Encodings

Excel might use a specific text encoding that is not universally compatible, leading to character encoding issues when the CSV file is opened in other applications.

Solution:

When saving as CSV, choose the appropriate text encoding that matches the requirements of the target application or system. "UTF-8" is a widely supported and recommended encoding.

”Saving file as CSV”


Special Characters and Quotes

Excel might add double quotes around fields that contain special characters (like commas or line breaks), leading to misinterpretation of data.

Solution:

When saving as CSV, disable Excel's automatic quoting feature. Additionally, ensure that any special characters are properly escaped or replaced as needed.

Multiple Sheets and Data Range

The Excel files with multiple sheets or data in specific ranges might not save as expected when converted to CSV.

Solution:

When saving, ensure that you select the correct sheet and data range to be exported to CSV. You may need to create separate CSV files for each sheet or workbook if necessary.

Lost Leading Zeros

Excel may remove leading zeros from numeric values, which will eventually cause data inconsistencies in the CSV file.

Solution:

Format cells with leading zeros as text to preserve them when saving as CSV.

Best Free Alternative to Microsoft Excel - WPS Office

It is true that Microsoft Office contains every possible application to increase your productivity and that you can use Microsoft Excel to create CSV files in the best and the simplest possible way. However, there are still some limitations you may want to know.

Microsoft Excel and other Office applications are only available for one-time or subscription-based purchases. So, you will have to pay a definite amount of money to download and use these applications on your PC and other devices.

”WPS Office features”


So, why not recommend a better alternative that can do all these functions without you needing to pay a single penny? Yes, it is true. WPS Office Suite is one such alternative that has the same set of functionalities as Microsoft Office, but the best part is that it is completely free to use.

Also, you can not only create a CSV file in a WPS spreadsheet, but also PDF. You can use WPS Office to convert a PDF file to CSV.

”PDF to CSV on WPS”


To download WPS Office Suite on your device, you can go to the website wps.com and find the download button to download WPS for any device you want. It is completely free to download and use for every operating system. This includes Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Linux and more. Download it for any device and start using it absolutely for free.

”WPS Download button website”


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FAQs about Creating a CSV file in Excel

What is the maximum size limit for a CSV file in Excel?

CSV files have a limit of 32,767 characters per cell. Excel has a limit of 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns per sheet.

How do I convert a CSV file back to an Excel file?

To convert a CSV file into Excel, you will have to use Power Automate. This application will allow you to open every type of CSV file from Launch Excel.

Follow these steps to do that:

Step 1: To convert your CSV file into XLSX file format, open Launch Excel action in Power Automate.

”Power automate excel launch”

Step 2: Open your file in Launch Excel action and save it as new Excel workbook file. You will have to use Save document as option in the Close Excel action in Power Automate.

”Power automate close excel”

Step 3: The methods mentioned above were for comma-separated files. To convert the semicolon-separated file, you will have to follow this new approach.

Deploy Read from CSV file from Power Automate and give the file path

.

”Power automate read from CSV”

Step 4: Next, you will have to launch a blank Excel document using the Launch Excel action and follow the steps.

”write to excel worksheet”

How to Create a CSV file in Excel

We have seen how to create a CSV file in Excel using multiple options. The process is pretty simple and straightforward, and even a non-technical person can easily do that. We also saw that you can use WPS Office Suite for free to create CSV files. WPS Office Suite is a completely free Office Suite that contains all the programs and features found in WPS Office.

You can download and use WPS Office for free from the official website and then install and use it on your devices.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.