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What is a CSV file and how do I save my spreadsheet as one?

A CSV is a comma separated values file which allows data to be saved in a table structured format. CSVs look like a garden-variety spreadsheet but with a .csv extension. Traditionally they take the form of a text file containing information separated by commas, hence the name.

CSV files can be used with any spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, or Google Spreadsheets. They differ from other spreadsheet file types in that you can only have a single sheet in a file, they can not save cell, column, or row styling, and can not save formulas.

In ecommerce, CSVs are used primarily for importing and exporting product, customer, and order information to and from your store.

Sample Product Import CSV: bulk-edit-product-import.csv

Saving Your Spreadsheet as a CSV

 

Note: These instructions are for Microsoft Excel 2010, but any spreadsheet software will follow a similar process.

1. Open your file in your spreadsheet program.

2. Click on File and choose Save As.

File › Save As

3. Under Save as type, choose CSV (Comma delimited). Click Save.

Save as CSV comma delimited, then save

4. You may see a message that your file "may contain features that are not compatible with CSV." This message is to inform you that any formatting you may have (such as colors or bold text) and any formulas will not be preserved in the CSV formatted file. Click Yes to continue.

Excel CSV error message

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