Data Analytics Glossary

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Comma Separated Values

What is Comma Separated Values?

CSV is an abbreviation for Comma Separated Values and a CSV file is a file which separates the tabular data with commas. When a CSV file is opened in a CSV reader like Microsoft Excel the values are automatically shown in a table. It is among the most used formats for exchanging data.

How does Comma Separated Values work?

CSV in MS Excel has different formats which you encounter while saving your file with "Save As". Though it depends on the version of Excel you are using. Excel in MS Office 365 has 4 types of CSV formats.

  1. CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited)

  2. CSV (Comma delimited)

  3. CSV (Macintosh)

  4. CSV (MS-DOS)

Among these 4, CSV (Macintosh) is dedicated to Mac computers while all other are available in MS Windows. All four have distinguished character coding, i.e. the terminating character for a record or line used in Macintosh type is CR (Carriage Return). On the other hand, other three utilize CR/LF (Carriage Return/Line Feed). These three formats are further separated by the type of code page they use.

Types and example:

  • column1,column2,column3

  • Firstrowdata1,firstrowdata2,firstrowdata3

  • secondrowdata1,secondrowdata2,secondrowdata3

In this representation, you can see that each value is separated by a comma. The first line is always table head, it can also be called the name of a data column. Every following line/row has the real data which is also restricted by file size constraints.

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