Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Working with CSV Files

CSV files are widely used for data storage across many programs, so it is likely that you will need to work with them in Excel occasionally. CSV stands for Comma-Separated Values, and stores data (numbers and text) in Plain-Text form.

There are many programs that support some variation of CSV as an alternative import/export format. You may need to transfer information from a database program that stores data in a proprietary format, to an Excel workbook where it can be analyzed. The good news is that you can use innate tools in Excel that can import this data, and you can then crunch numbers until your heart is content!

So How Do You Do This?

First of all, you need to make sure the source data is a TXT file. As mentioned, most data-gathering software can be exported to this format, so there is no problem there. Even Microsoft Word can be easily save as a Plain Text file which accomplishes your aims precisely.

Then it is on to Excel Where You can do the Following:

1. Open the worksheet you wish to import data into and click on the Data ribbon
2. Click From Text from the Get External Data group
3. Choose the text file that contains the data you wish to import
4. Click the Import button and then check Delimited
5. Noting the Data preview, choose the Delimiters that that apply to your data
6. The Delimiters many be Tab, Semicolon, Comma, or Space
7. Click Next / Finish / OK

Your data will then be imported into your worksheet in a standard format that you can go on to manipulate and analyze.

That’s all there is to it! Knowing how to use this indispensable tool will enable you do use the familiarity of Excel to work on data generated by other programs. How cool is that!

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