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CSV (.csv) Files vs. Excel (.xlsx) Files

So if csv files and excel files both open in the same program, what’s the difference in file types?

Excel Files

  • ~1M rows and ~16K columns allowed per worksheet
  • Multiple tabs aka “worksheets” allowed
  • Formulas and functions can be saved into workbook
  • Pivot tables, charts, and illustration elements can be saved into workbook
  • Usually larger in size
  • cannot be opened by text edit software (ie NotePad)
  • VBA coding allowed

CSV Files

  • ~1M rows and ~16K columns allowed per worksheet
  • Can only have one tab or worksheet
    • Ever create a workbook in Excel with 5,6, or 20 different tabs of data? Not allowed with CSVs
    • If you try to save an excel file as a csv, but your file has more than one tab, you’ll be given a warning about the data you’ll lose.
  • Smaller in size both due to only having one “tab” of data and extra information like formulas/charts is not included
  • Formulas and functions can NOT be saved into workbook (would be stripped out if saved from .xslx to .csv)
  • Pivot tables, charts, and illustration elements can NOT be saved into workbook (would be stripped out if saved from .xslx to .csv)
  • Can be opened by text editor software (ie NotePad)
  • VBA coding not possible

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