Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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)

3

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 Microsoft 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

Changing Above-the-Line Fonts

Word maintains a list of the fonts most recently used in the program. You can't modify the list, but you can turn it on ...

Discover More

Selecting a Paper Source

If your printer allows you to specify different paper trays as sources for paper, you need to know how to select those ...

Discover More

Moving Building Block Templates

Not all templates are created equal. Word uses two special templates for storing building blocks. If you want to move ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Faster Text File Conversions

Want to make your importing of text data faster than ever? Here are some ideas you can apply right away.

Discover More

Finding the Size of a Workbook

Keeping tabs on the size of a workbook can be important when using Excel. You have a couple of options that will allow ...

Discover More

Avoiding Scientific Notation on File Imports

When importing information from a CSV file, you may get unintended results from time to time. Here's how to force Excel ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 - 3?

2021-02-06 16:31:10

Profesor Yeow

Thanks for this. I never know about CP437.. and it's very useful for convert to UTF-8


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.