CSV file: Its Defination And Uses

CSV in full is Comma Separated Values and is denoted by the file extension.csv”. It is a basic text file that contains a list of data frequently used for exchanging data across diverse applications e.g. databases and contact managers (in forming contact cards). The CSV files file can also be referred to as Comma Delimited files or Character Separated Values because they generally use the comma character to separate data although they sometimes use other characters. This is a wonderful feature that aids one to export complex data from one application to a CSV file and then import the data in that CSV file into another application.

  • Configuration of a CSV File

A CSV file is structured in a very simple way; it is basically a list of data separated by commas that can contain thousands of lines (with long strings of text). Some of the data may use quotation marks to surround each bit of data and may not have headers at the top. They are designed to effortlessly in a way to easily export data to and import into other programs which in turn results in a readable format and can be easily views using a text editor like a WordPad, Notepad or a spreadsheet program e.g. MS Excel.

A Typical CSV file can contain information like this:

First Name, Last Name, Email, Contact Number, Address

Chukwuemeka, Bassey,, +2348010234567, Association Street

Kabiru, Anifowose,, +2348123456789, Lanre Idanre Street

  • Opening a CSV File in a Spreadsheet Program

To open a CSV in a spreadsheet program, simply double click on the file with the file extension, ‘.csv’ to open it in the spreadsheet program installed in your system. You can also right-click on the file and select Open With then select Microsoft Excel (or any other spreadsheet program installed on your system). Usually, if you don’t have a spreadsheet program installed, a number of installed programs that can be used to open the CSV file are displayed in a pop up window as options to select from. The spreadsheet program usually presents the data contained in the CSV file in an arranged format cataloging it into columns.

  • Opening a CSV File in a Text Editor (Notepad, Notepad ++ etc.)

To open a given CSV file in a text editor like Notepad, right-click on the file, and then select Edit. Sometimes Notepad finds it difficult to open a large or complex CSV file. For outsized CSV files, you may wish to install the Notepad++ which is more capable. To open the CSV file with this Notepad++ after installing, simply right-click on the file and select the Edit With Notepad++ command. You would be able to see the plain text list of data contained in the CSV file properly sorted.

Often times, if the Word Wrap feature is active on Notepad, it can make data difficult to read on a CSV file. You can disable by clicking on the “Format” option in Notepad and then selecting Word Wrap to disable it as this will make each line of data be arranged properly on its own line for better comprehension and reading.

CSV files are made specifically for importing and exporting data effectively between two non-similar programs. E.g. Contacts list, saved passwords, etc. Google Contacts can export your contacts into either a Google CSV or Outlook CSV formats. Some other Third-Party applications can also aid you export and import data in CSV formats e.g. CSV to Vcard (this helps you transfer contacts list from an android phone or iPhone into a Nokia readable format of contact list.

So once again, if you would need to get information transferred from one application to another, this is what the CSV file helps to achieve. I hope this helps.



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