Many programs or services that store data or manipulate or show data in some way often have a way to export that data into a file commonly known as a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file. I am going to answer some of the common questions when it comes to exporting to CSV.
1. What is CSV?
CSV stands for Comma Separate Values. Each line in a CSV file is a record (a row), and each column is separated by a comma.
2. How do I export to CSV?
The method you use to export to CSV depends on the program or service you are using. The most common place to look to export to CSV is when you save the data. There should be an option that lets you choose what format you want to save in. For example a Microsoft Access report can be exported to CSV by saving the report and selecting “CSV” as the option where it asks you what format you want the report in.
3. How is data turned into CSV format for exporting?
Each column is separated by a comma in the file. Usually quotes are also used to represent a piece of data that is separated by the commas. So for example if you have 3 rows of data and there are 8 columns, the system/service you are exporting to CSV from generates 3 lines of text and separates each row and column using the commas as separators and places them at the appropriate location in one of the lines and on the appropriate place in the line depending on which row and column the piece of data is located in the data table.
Once this is done, the file is simply saved with a CSV extension so that programs like Notepad or Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Access are able to recognize it as a comma separated values file and can open it.
4. How do I read a CSV file I have exported?
Once you export to a CSV file and save the file on your hard drive, the most common program used to open it is Microsoft Excel. Excel will open the CSV file and place it into separate cells so that it is easier to read the data contained in it. Another popular application is Windows Notepad. The Notepad will open the exported CSV as plain text so you will see commas separating each column and each row is on a new line in the CSV file.
If you are given an option to export data to multiple formats, usually CSV is a good choice because that way you can use the computation functionality of Microsoft Excel to perform further calculations on the data once you have the exported CSV file in worksheet form.