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: Comma-Delimited and MS-DOS CSV Variations.

Comma-Delimited and MS-DOS CSV Variations

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 29, 2020)

2

Steve notes that Excel allows saving a worksheet in several different CSV formats. He understands the differences between most of the variants, but he's at a loss as to the difference between the "CSV (Comma delimited)" and "CSV (MS-DOS)" formats.

For most people there is very little difference between these two versions. (There are much bigger differences between these versions and the Macintosh CSV version, which Excel also supports.) The reason is that there is little difference between what the two formats create. With most data, you could create a file in the two formats and compare them byte-for-byte and find no differences.

The difference between the two is important, however, if you have certain special characters in text fields; for example, an accented (foreign language) character. If you export as Windows CSV, those fields are encoded using the Windows-1252 code page. DOS encoding usually uses code page 437, which maps characters used in old pre-Windows PCs. If you export as one and then import with a tool that expects the other, most things will look fine, but you'll get unexpected results if, for example, you know someone with an umlaut (or other foreign character) in their name.

Essentially, CSV comma delimited is used by Windows and CSV MS-DOS is used by older DOS-based operating systems and you would rarely encounter issues except in the circumstances outlined above.

Additional information on code pages can be found at this Wikipedia page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_page

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9508) 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: Comma-Delimited and MS-DOS CSV Variations.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Formatting Combo Box Text

If you insert objects, such as a combo box, in your worksheet, you may need a way to modify the font used in the object. ...

Discover More

Calculating the Distance between Points

Want to figure out how far it is between two points on the globe? If you know the points by latitude and longitude, you ...

Discover More

Getting the Name of the Worksheet Into a Cell

Excel allows you to change the names assigned to the worksheets in a workbook. If you want to have those names appear in ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Getting Rid of Empty Rows after Importing

Import data into a worksheet (or paste it there) and you may find that you end up with a group of blank cells you need to ...

Discover More

Full Path to Workbook

Need to get the full path of your current workbook into the Clipboard? Excel doesn't make it quite as easy as it used to ...

Discover More

Different CSV Formats

Excel provides different CSV formats you can use to export your workbook data for use with other programs. What are those ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 3 + 6?

2020-03-27 12:50:05

Gonzalo

Hi Allen

I've tried saving a CSV (Windows) in Excel for Mac, and it doesn't change the encoding (it still uses MacRoman), the difference is the newline characters. Can you verify that?

I've tried also using a macro, saving the file with the xlCSVWindows FileFormat and got the same result: MacRoman encoding.


2020-03-02 05:33:42

Richard Curtis

A database app that I use expects a CSV file in UTF-8 format. I use Excel to create such CSVs but how can I get Excel to save in this format by default?


This Site

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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.