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: Correctly Saving Delimited Files.

Correctly Saving Delimited Files

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 8, 2019)

5

Raymond indicated that he was having some problems properly exporting delimited files from within Excel. Raymond was requesting that Excel create a file using the tab character as a delimiter. It seems that Excel would not reliably add a tab character at the end of a row when the last field in the row was empty.

Actually, this is how Excel is designed to operate. When exporting information to a delimited file, each row in the data table is handled independently. If one particular row has fewer fields than other rows, Excel doesn't "pad out" the exported row with "blank" fields. This can, of course, lead to problems with some other programs that use the Excel-created file and rely on a static number of fields in each input row.

A workaround for this potential problem is to simply make sure that Excel always has something in every cell of the final column of your data table. This is actually easier than it sounds—all you need to do is make sure the right-most column contains some unique text string, perhaps something like [{|}]. (It is unlikely that such a string would be used elsewhere in your data.) When you export to a delimited file, Excel will always export the same number of fields per row, right up to the unique text string. Then, when you import the delimited file into your other program, you can instruct it to ignore the last field of each row that it imports.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10564) 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: Correctly Saving Delimited Files.

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. ...

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Comments

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What is eight more than 0?

2019-01-08 11:26:38

Neil

Eoin- if you are importing a CSV file into Excel, you can specify the format of each column in the data. If you select "text" for the page number data, it should keep Excel from converting to dates. (see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. 


2019-01-08 06:11:59

Eoin Bairéad

Hi. As usual, excellent tip. I have a problem. I have a CSV file of book entries which includes author, title and pagination. Pagination is in the format 105-110
Unfortunately early pagination doesn't work, and 1-10 comes out as January 10th, 3-8 as March 8th and so on.
Is there a fix?

Thanks

Eoin


2016-03-14 14:12:34

Scott Renz

Thanks, Peter, but I need those characters to be there or an FDA inspector will fail us for not having the exact characters as the original.


2016-03-11 11:37:58

Peter Atherton

Scott

Try running one of these routines to clean the data before running Allen's


Sub CleanReturns()
Dim c As Range

For Each c In Selection
c = WorksheetFunction.Substitute(c, Chr(10), " ")
Next c

End Sub
Sub CleanNPC()
Dim c As Range

For Each c In Selection
c = WorksheetFunction.Clean(c)
Next c

End Sub

The first macro removes hard returns within cells. The Clean function removes all non printing characters so should be more successful

HTH


2016-03-10 10:54:50

Scott Renz

My problem is that some of the fields have carriage return or line field characters or both in them. When this happens, it starts a new row even though it should not be in a new row.

Is there a way to tell Excel not to start a new row when it reads the file in, if the end quote has not yet been encountered before coming to the line feed or carriage return characters?


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