CSV Files

What is a CSV?

CSV stands for "Comma-Separated Values”.  CSV file format is a text based file format used to store data in a table-like structure. As it’s name implies, data points in a CSV file are separated, or delimited, by a comma.

Creating a CSV

If we have the information in the table below, we can create a CSV file using a text editor such as Notepad.

Email Name Hometown Pet
John@company.com John Newman Chicago Turtle
Marie@company.com Marie Robinson San Francisco Cat
Cali@company.com Cali Williams Seattle Dog

Each of your column headers should be listed on the first line of your CSV file, separated by commas. Each row of your table will be a new line. Fields of data in each row should be separated with a comma. Below is an example of how the table above looks in CSV format:

Email, Name, Hometown, Pet
John@company.com, John Newman, Chicago, Turtle
Marie@company.com, Marie Robinson, San Francisco, Cat
Cali@company.com, Cali Williams, Seattle, Dog

Saving your Spreadsheet as a CSV file in Microsoft Excel

To save your Excel Spreadsheet as a CSV first click File, then Save as. In the Save As dialog box click the Save As Type drop-down to change your file type to CSV (Comma Delimited).

For more on exporting a CSV from Excel, see Microsoft Office’s support article.

Saving your Spreadsheet as a CSV file in Google Sheets

To save your Google Sheets spreadsheet as a CSV first click File, then hover your mouse over Download As, and then select Comma-separated values:

Best Practices

Make sure your CSV meets the following guidelines:

  • Make sure your file is UTF-8 encoded — otherwise, special characters like apostrophes or quotes will look garbled in your sequence.
  • The column header for email addresses must be “email” (no quotes, not case sensitive). We'll likely relax this in the future.
  • Email address should be formatted correctly — check for commas, spaces or other errors in email addresses.
  • If there are empty cells in the email column, that row will not be used in your sequence, because there is no one to send it to.
  • Column headers: Do not include periods or special characters in your column headers. Underscores are fine. We'll relax this very soon!
  • Accented characters: If your accented characters appear garbled when you upload your CSV, you should export your CSV as a UTF-8 encoded CSV
  • Edit your data after you upload it: You can edit the text in each cell after you upload your CSV. You can also add new rows and columns. 

Still not working? If your CSV meets the guidelines above and you're still having trouble, we can help you out. Please send your CSV to success@mixmax.com.