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Convert Excel to CSVSo, you want to convert an Excel spreadsheet to a CSV? This won’t take long at all. Matter of fact, if you are operating Excel 2013 this is going to be the easiest thing you’ve probably ever done. If you’re new to the 2013 version of Excel (or at Excel at all) there is an Excel 2013 crash course to get you up to speed.

CSV stands for comma-separated values. Basically, it’s a file full of plain text (sequences of characters) separated by commas with no need for interpretation. This can be kind of confusing and frustrating if you want to see your data in a more organized fashion (like you can in Excel). Luckily, you can convert a CSV file to an Excel file just like you can convert the other way around. I’ll cover that at the end.

Excel spreadsheets are saved as XLSX extensions and XLSX files are organized by fields, rows and columns. In a CSV file the commas represent the columns in an XLSX format. CSV files are deemed easier than XLSX formats to use across different database applications and languages, which may be why you are here trying to convert your spreadsheet to a CSV file. Again, if you are a newbie to all of this Excel talk, read about the basics of an Excel workbook before getting started.

How to Convert XLSX to CSV

Excel 2013

Step 1: Open an Excel file (.xlsx) by going to File > Open > [your file]. Your spreadsheet may have more columns or column and row headings and that’s fine.

Step 2: With your file open go to File > Save As. Select your destination folder (where you want to save your .csv file). I saved mine on my desktop. Don’t hit Save yet.

Step 3: You will see a dialog box asking you to title your file to save it somewhere. Click the arrow on the save as type below the file name field. Search for CSV (comma delimited). Select it and hit Save. There is also CSV (Macintosh) for Macs and CSV (MS-DOS) if you happen to be running DOS.

After you hit save you will see another box pop up asking you if it’s okay to keep using the CSV format. It is. Hit yes.

That’s it! Now your data is comma separated and in plain text. If you want to take your information to the next level, learn how to analysis your data in Excel.

Excel 2010 and before

If you are using a version of Excel from 2003 or before, your extension will not be .XLSX it will be .XLS

Other than that? It’s exactly the same. Go to File > Save As. From the File type drop down box select CSV (comma delimited) and then hit Save. While this is the same process, some things are different in the 2007 and 2010 version than the 2013 version. Learn about the differences in these courses: Excel 2010 and Excel 2007.

How to Convert CSV to XLSX

Excel 2013

Step 1: Open your .csv file with Excel. To do this, go to File > Open > [your file].


Step 2: Once your .csv file is open you’ll notice things may look a little crammed and it will have commas everywhere. In CSV files, all of the data gets put into column A. The task at hand is to make it more organized and use the other columns available to do so. Highlight column A by clicking on the A itself.

Step 3: At the top of the Excel screen click on the Data tab. Then look a little to the right and see the Text to Columns tab. Select it.

Step 4: Once you’ve selected the Text to Columns button there will be a pop-up box asking you some questions. You will see a radio button next to the word delimited. Make sure this button is selected. Hit next.

Step 5: On the next screen you will see some check boxes. Make sure that you check comma and uncheck the other boxes. You’ll be able to see your data starting to clear up already in the preview box. Hit next.

Step 6: The final screen you will see is one that may or may not be useful to you. You can organize your data by data type (date, text, etc.) – but you don’t have to do this. Assign formatting and then click Finish. Voila!

Just like converting an XLSX to a CSV, you can convert a CSV to XLSX by using the Save As function.

Except, instead of looking for CSV (comma delimited), you want to look for Excel Workbook. This will convert it to the familiar XLSX extension. Remember that before 2003, Excel workbooks are .XLS and not .XLSX. If for some reason you need the .XLS extension instead, select the Excel 97-2003 option. Then hit save.

Pretty easy, right? If you can manage to do this then you’re a perfect fit for the Masters of Excel course (it’s for beginners and intermediate users). You can learn to do so much more!

Third Party Website Conversion

If you aren’t really into doing this work, you can always use a third party website. Here’s what to do.

1. Go to www.zamzar.com. You’ll see some pretty self-explanatory steps on the landing page to guide you through this process. Just in case you need a little more explaining, keep reading.

2. In Step 1, choose an .XLSX file from your computer, or you can drag and drop a file.

3. In Step 2, choose either the .CSV format to convert the Excel Spreadsheet to a CSV file.

4. In Step 3, enter your email address. The only reason you’re doing this is to receive your converted file. They won’t bombard you with mail and your information won’t be sold.

5. Click Convert.

It’s that easy. You can also use this option to convert a ton of other files to your preferred file type. This kind of service really takes the trouble out of your hands.

If you are interested in learning some more cool tips on Excel, check out this course of some favorite Excel tips and tricks.

Page Last Updated: February 2014

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