How to create a CSV file.

A comma-separated values (CSV) file is any file containing text that is separated with a comma, but can also be a file separated with any other character. To create a CSV is as simple as creating any text file and can be created in any text editor, however, is often created in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel or Open Office Calc. Below are the steps on how to create a CSV file using a text editor such as Notepad, Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, and Google Docs.

Notepad (or any text editor)
Microsoft Excel
Open Office Calc
Google Docs

Notepad (or any text editor)

To create a CSV file in a text editor open a new text editor program, such as Notepad. Once open write the text data you want the file to contain and separate each field or column of data with a comma and each row with a new line.

Title1,Title2,Title3
one,two,three
example1,example2,example3

As an example, if you were to create a text file with the above data, and save it as a CSV file, each column is created by each comma and each row is created by each new line. Therefore, the above data if opened in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel would create a table similar to the example below.

Title1 Title2 Title3
one two three
example1 example2 example3

If the data you're planning to use in your CSV file already has comma's, such as an address; it's easier to use a different delimiter to separate each of the values. For example, in the below CSV file we will be creating names and addresses for labels that will be printed and are separating each name and address label with a tilde character. Alternatively a better solution would be to have the address, city, and state in their own column.

Name
Street Address
City, State ZIP Code
~Mr John Smith
123 Fake address
Salt Lake City, Utah 89110
~Mrs Jane Doe
586 Another fake
Delta, Utah 84624
~Bill White
123 N Fake Street
St Anthony, Idaho 83445

Microsoft Excel

Open Microsoft Excel and the file you want to save as a CSV file. For example, below is the data contained in our example Excel worksheet.

Item Cost Sold Profit
Keyboard $10.00 $16.00 $6.00
Monitor $80.00 $120.00 $40.00
Mouse $5.00 $7.00 $2.00
    Total $48.00

Once open, click File, choose the Save As option, and as the Save as type: select the CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv) option.

Saving excel file as CSV

Once saved, if you were to open the CSV file in a text editor, such as Notepad, the CSV file should resemble the example below.

Item,Cost,Sold,Profit
Keyboard,$10.00,$16.00,$6.00
Monitor,$80.00,$120.00,$40.00
Mouse,$5.00,$7.00,$2.00
,,Total,$48.00

Open Office Calc

Open the Open Office Calc and the file you want to save as a CSV file. For example, below is the data contained in our example Calc worksheet.

Item Cost Sold Profit
Keyboard $10.00 $16.00 $6.00
Monitor $80.00 $120.00 $40.00
Mouse $5.00 $7.00 $2.00
    Total $48.00

Once open, click File, choose the Save As option, and as the Save as type: select the Text CSV (.csv) (*.csv) option. Once saved, if you were to open the CSV file in a text editor such as Notepad the CSV file should resemble the example below.

Item,Cost,Sold,Profit
Keyboard,$10.00,$16.00,$6.00
Monitor,$80.00,$120.00,$40.00
Mouse,$5.00,$7.00,$2.00
,,Total,$48.00

Google Docs

Open Google Docs and the Spreadsheet file you want to save as a CSV file. Click File, Download as, and then select CSV (current sheet).

Additional information

  • See our CSV definition for further information on this term and related links.