What is CSV(Comma Separated Value) file? When to use CSV File? How to open CSV file Format?

👤 Diwas Poudel    🕒 Feb 27 2021    📁 Fix    📜 0 comment

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There are various types of file extensions and file types used in computers. Some of the popular file extensions are txt, pdf, xlsx, etc. Have you ever heard about the .csv file? Among general people it is not much used and not much popular. If you want to know about the CSV file, how to use them, when to use them, why to use them then you are in right place. Common let's start.

What is CSV File?

CSV file stands for Comma Separated Value file.CSV file is a type of plain text file which is a common format used for data exchange between different applications. It is used in programming and data field.CSV file handles only tabular data. Data inside the CSV file will be number, string only, and does not contain formulas, etc.

Also Read: Websites for free books for kids 

How does the CSV file look?

Ans: CSV file looks like this:


In detail overview of content inside CSV file.

1. CSV file extension should be .csv.

2. The standard format of CSV data is defined by rows and columns.

3. Each row ends by newline then the next row begins.

4. Each column is separated by a comma. But another delimiter like colon, semicolon, space, equal sign, tab is also used. But the last value is not followed by a comma.

Eg. "Diwas","Poudel",45,"Jhapa, Nepal"

5. Each line in the CSV file is called a record and this acts as a row of data in a table.

6. Leading and trailing space of character between comma field separators are ignored and trimmed out.

Eg. Diwas , Poudel,45, "Jhapa, Nepal" resolves to "Diwas" and "Poudel"

7. The fundamental concept of separating fields from commas is simple, but when field data contain commas as well then the situation becomes complicated. Because there is no standard method for doing this. But general solutions look like this:

The solution for this is: Enclose the field in double-quotes.

Example from Point 4, ie. "Jhapa, Nepal" has a comma within a single field so quoted whole data in double quotes

8. If any field has double-quote characters then those characters must be surrounded by double-quotes.

For example, " Diwas "Raj"  can be written as "Diwas""Raj"""

CSV is data and database file extensions.Some other file of this types are : .dat, .db, .sql, .tar, .mdb etc.

Why use CSV?

1) It is used to import and export the data from one application to another.
2) It is a platform-independent file. You can create a CSV file in a Windows environment and can open the same file in Linux and Mac environments.
3) Large number of applications can open this file easily. Some applications that can open this file are excel, office, google sheets, LibreOffice, GenScriber, OpenOffice Calc, Fresh Books, Mobi systems OfficeSuite, etc.
4)It can be easily imported into the database.

When to Use CSV?

Here is the list of when to use the CSV file.

  • When your data can take tabular structure.
  • Transfer data from one application to another.

Advantage of CSV File 

Here are some advantages of CSV File as compared to other files.

  • Text in CSV Files is human-readable.
  • Parsing CSV Files is simple to implement.
  • CSV Files can be processed by almost all the application.
  • CSV Files are easy to generate.
  • CSV Files can be easily imported to most database.
  • If the data volume is very large basic data and the scheme is more or less flat then CSV could be one of the best for transferring data as compared to XML and JSON.

Disadvantage of CSV File | Limitation of CSV File

Here are some disadvantages of CSV Files.

  • CSV files are unable to handle complex data. Only good for basic data only.
  • No separation of numeric data from text data.
  • Some databases do not support CSV files for data import.
  • CSV files are not fully standardized. There is a lack of universal standard rules for handling CSV data.Ways of handling data are different. The problem for solving point 4. 6. 7. and 8. of "How does CSV files looks" are also different from person to person
  • No standard way to represent control characters.
  • CSV file will not be properly imported if the required field(mandatory field) is blank and if data has quoted.
  • CSV file will not be properly imported if data in CSV file contains an unsupported character.
  • CSV file does not have standard ways for representing binary data.

How to Create CSV File?


How to Open CSV File?

Opening CSV file is very simple.Lets looks at opening CSV file in various application

Opening CSV File in MS EXCEL

  1. First, make sure you have installed the MS Excel application
  2. Then right-click on the CSV file that you like to open. Then click on "OpenWith".Then click on Excel.

Opening CSV File in 

CSV File vs Text File

  • Data in .txt files have no formatting for distinguishing each data.
  • Data in .csv files can be distinguished by specific delimiter generally comma. But any other delimiter like a pipe, tab, or any single value character. Most of the applications can distinguish each data and treat them are tabular data.

CSV File vs xlsx File

Different between CSV File and XLSX File are as follow.

CSV File XLSX File
CSV stands for Comma Separated Values.It is plain text file which contains series of data separated by delimiters generally comma.
XLSX stands for Excel Microsoft Office Open XML Format Spreadsheet file . It is Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets used for storing,organizing and analyzing the data.
CSV files only contains delimited data and we cannot use formulat on it. In XLSX files, we can stores data as well as can perform formatting,use formula,macro,generates Pivot Table,VBA code on it.
CSV files can be opened and edited by all text editors. XLSX cannot be edit or opened by text editors.
CSV generally consumes less memory than xlsx files. XLSX consumes more memory while importing data.
Data of CSV will only be text or number. Data of XLXS may contains text , number,charts and graphs