Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Stopping Date Parsing when Opening a CSV File.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 6, 2018)
Marc has a user at his company who is trying to open a .CSV file in Excel. Some of the numbers in the file are in the format of "2-1" (or something similar). During the import, Excel parses this information as a date. If the piece of data is clearly something outside a valid date range (such as 2-134), then Excel imports it as would be expected. Marc is wondering how his user can force Excel to not parse this data as dates but to import them as text fields.
There at two easy ways you can approach this issue. First is to import the file in the following manner:
Figure 1. The Text Import Wizard.
The other way to approach the issue also involves the Text Import Wizard, but how you display it is different. In this approach, you use Windows to rename the file so that it has a .TXT extension instead of a .CSV extension. Now, when you use Excel to open the file, it displays the Text Import Wizard because it isn't quite sure how to interpret what it is going to be loading. You can use the Text Import Wizard in the same manner as already described earlier in this tip.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9179) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Stopping Date Parsing when Opening a CSV File.
Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!
Excel keeps track of the most recent workbooks you've used. If you want to access that information in a macro, you'll ...Discover More
Don't you hate opening a workbook and seeing error messages? If you see a message that some "invalid names" were detected ...Discover More
Need to know what the full path name is for the current workbook? With a simple macro you can display the full path name ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.