What is a CSV (Comma-Separated value) File? - Rons Place Blog

A CSV (or comma-separated value) file is a text file containing data formated as a table. Each line represents a row and contains a list of cell values separated by commas. The first row can optionally contain the list of column names.

An example is shown below:

 

FirstName,LastName,Company
Portia,Mcfann,Beachcomber Realty
Andrew,Fenstermacher,Shafer Commercial Seating Inc
Brady,Tatum,Cywinski Jackson Bohlin
Gracie,Riskalla,Richard A Esq Jessup
Helga,Rio,Pony Express

 

Which when handled correctly represents:

FirstName LastName Company
Portia Mcfann Beachcomber Realty
Andrew Fenstermacher Shafer Commercial Seating Inc
Brady Tatum Cywinski Jackson Bohlin
Gracie Riskalla Richard A Esq Jessup
Helga Rio Pony Express

CSV files are commonly used as a format of data exchange between applications as they are simple to generate and easily understood by a wide range of software.

Format Details

Within a CSV file the comma character represents a division between two cells (or fields) and the new line character(s) represents a division between two rows (or records). For this reason steps need to be taken to protect these characters if they actually form part of the field data itself.

When a field in a CSV file contains a comma or new line it is simply surrounded by quotes (").

However, what if the cell contains text that itself is surrounded by quotes? In that case the quotes, within the cell are represented as double quotes ("").

The combinations are shown below:

Description Example
Normal Cell Cell value
Cell containing comma "Cell, with a comma"
Call containing a new line "Cell with 
a new line"
Cell containing quoted data "Cell with some ''''quotes'''' in it"

 

An example is shown below:

 

FirstName,LastName,Company,Address
Claude,Piscitello,"Nippard, Lewis Straughn Pa","127 Maple St
Madison
TN 37115"
"Beverley ""long""",Schilk,"Wahl, Travis J Esq","445 Broadway
Denver
CO 80203"
Maude,Balceiro,"Berger, Leslie M Esq","4933 E Colonial Dr
Orlando
FL 32803"
Roger,Voorheis,Park View Guest House,"204 N Guadalupe St
Santa Fe
NM 87501"
Martina,Rissman,Criterion Electronics Inc,"726 Plymouth Park
Irving
TX 75061"

 

Which when handled correctly represents:

FirstName LastName Company Address
Claude Piscitello Nippard, Lewis Straughn Pa 127 Maple St 
Madison 
TN 37115
Beverley "long" Schilk Wahl, Travis J Esq 445 Broadway 
Denver 
CO 80203
Maude Balceiro Berger, Leslie M Esq 4933 E Colonial Dr
Orlando 
FL 32803
Roger Voorheis Park View Guest House 204 N Guadalupe St 
Santa Fe 
NM 87501
Martina Rissman Criterion Electronics Inc 726 Plymouth Park
Irving 
TX 75061

It's Not All About Commas

Of course commas and quotes do not always need to be the charaters used to separate the elements of a CSV file. Some common variations exists, although their use does alter the name as would be expected:

Name Extension Field Separator Field Surround
Comma separated value CSV Comma (,) Quote (")
Pipe separated value PSV Pipe (|) Quote (")
Tab separated value TSV Tab Quote (")

In fact almost any characters can be used to separate the rows and fields, depending on the software used to edit the file.

How to Edit CSV Files

 

Main Window

 

Simply download and install Rons CSV Editor.

More Information

 


Tags: Rons CSV Editor

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