Export an Excel File to a CSV File

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How to export an Excel file to a CSV file (comma separated values file).  This allows you to turn any Excel spreadsheet into a CSV file that you can then use to send to another person or easily upload into a database system.

Steps to Export a Worksheet to a CSV File

  1. Make sure your data is positioned exactly as you want it to be positioned.  (Editing a CSV file later if you don't have access to Excel is a real pain.)
  2. Click File > Save As (Office Button > Save As in Excel 2007)
  3. In the window that opens, go to the Save as type drop down menu at the bottom and change the selection to CSV.

    There may be a few options for CSV but the basic one (CSV (Comma delimited)) is the one you want to choose.
  4. Hit the Save button to save the file.
  5. If you have multiple worksheets in your workbook, you will see this warning:

    CSV files can't store multiple tabs of information.  They can only store one worksheet at a time per CSV file.  As such, only the currently visible worksheet will be saved.
  6. Hit the OK and then you might see another warning that says that any incompatible features will not be saved.  Basically, Excel can do a lot of things but a CSV file can only store basic text.

    Hit Yes to continue saving your CSV file.
  7. After all the warning messages, we are finally done.

The new file will look almost exactly like an Excel file but it is not an Excel file.  Here is the new file's icon:

If you open the new file in Excel, it won't look much different, but, open it with a basic text editor, like Notepad, and it will look like this:


CSV files cannot store any of the "fancy" features available in Excel, such as charts, formulas, functions, etc.  A CSV file will only store plain text and all formulas and functions will be converted to their displayed output.

If you open a CSV file with Excel, it will look almost exactly like a regular Excel file except that it won't have any fancy Excel features saved in the file.

CSV files, though seemingly useless, are great for when you need to export, transmit, and re-upload large amounts of data, especially when the destination is a database.

Make sure to download the sample Excel file and CSV file included with this tutorial so you can see how this works.

Downloadable Files: Excel File

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