Microsoft Office Software

How do you convert Excel to CSV?

convert Excel to CSV
Valued information: convert your spreadsheets

When trying to import data trapped in a spreadsheet, you may be asked for the file in CSV format. But what is CSV and how do you convert Excel to CSV? Naturally, we’ve got the answers to both.

What is CSV?

CSV stands for comma separated values. It’s one of the most simple data formats there is.

It will literally create a file where all the data in each cell of the spreadsheet is separated by a comma.

So, for example, if I had a very simple spreadsheet such as below that was keeping scores in a game:

The CSV file, when opened in a text editor, would look like this:

,Barry,Tim
Round 1,3,4
Round 2,4,5
Round 3,3,5
Total ,10,14

How to convert Excel to CSV

By far the easiest way to convert an Excel spreadsheet to a CSV file is within Excel itself.

  1. Open the sheet you wish to convert
  2. Choose File, then Save As
  3. In the drop-down menu beneath the filename, choose CSV (Comma delimited)

There are some other variants on the CSV format listed in Excel’s dropdown menu, but the one with (Comma delimited) after its name should give the most reliable results.

You should now be able to open the CSV file in any spreadsheet application or text editor.

Bear in mind, however, that CSV files only retain the values – the items displayed in the cells. They do not retain any formulae or other information. It’s purely designed for the transfer of values from one application to another.

How to convert Excel to CSV in Google Sheets

If you don’t have Excel on your computer but still need to convert a file to CSV, fear not.

  1. Open Google Sheets in a web browser
  2. Upload the Excel spreadsheet into Google Sheets by clicking the folder icon on the right of the screen and selecting Upload
  3. Once you’ve opened the file in Google Sheets, click File, Download As, and select Comma Separated Values, as shown below

A CSV file will be downloaded to your computer.

Now read this: How do I reveal hidden columns in Excel?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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