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Difference Between CSV and Excel

Posted in Technology   LAST UPDATED: MARCH 28, 2023

    CSV and Excel are both different, you might be considering them as the same. There are some similarities as they both help us to store the data in a tabular format but there are some key differences too.

    In this post, we are going to discuss the key difference between CSV and Excel. First of all, let's get to know what is CSV and Excel.

    CSV vs Excel

    What is CSV?

    CSV stands for Comma-Separated Values. It is simply a plain text file that separates the values using commas. In CSV, these values mean cells of the table and lines mean rows of the table.

    You can read CSV files using various applications and these CSV files are used by data analysts for visualizations. The CSV file is made of rows and columns where if you have to begin the next row, you have to write in a new line and a comma separates each column within a row.

    What is Excel?

    Microsoft Excel allows you to store, process, analyze and export data in horizontal and vertical rows. It is spreadsheet software that is used to display data in tabular format.

    Excel is used to create tables that you can use for calculations, accounting, and more. With the help of Excel, you can add charts, graphs, and graphics too to make the tables more presentable.

    Difference Between CSV and Excel



    • MS Excel stands for Microsoft Excel.
    • CSV stands for Comma Separated Values.
    • It is a Spreadsheet Software that is used to display data in tabular format.
    • It is a plain text format with a series of values separated by commas
    • An Excel not only stores data but can also do operations on the data
    • A CSV file is just a text file, it stores data but does not contain formatting, formulas, macros, etc. It is also known as flat files
    • It is saved with .xls and .xlsx extensions.
    • It is saved with .csv extension.
    • Excel files can only be opened and edited with Microsoft Excel.
    • CSV files can be opened, read, and edited with editors like notepad, MS Excel, Microsoft Works 9, etc.
    • Parsing any programming language library is complicated.
    • Parsing any programming language library is easy.
    • In Excel, start tag and end tag is required for each column in each row
    • In CSV, you need to write column headers only once
    • Excel consumes more memory than CSV.
    • CSV consumes less memory than Excel.
    • Reading large files user is much easier in Excel for the end user.
    • Reading large files in CSV is not easy for the user.
    • Apart from text, data can also be stored in form of charts and graphs
    • CSV can not store charts or graphs
    • Excel can fetch data from external data sources.
    • CSV files don't have this functionality.
    • Excel files are difficult to manipulate programmatically for developers.
    • it’s easy to programmatically manipulate CSV for developers.


    Both CSV and Excel have widely used file formats for storing and manipulating data. While Excel offers more advanced features and formatting options, CSV is a simple and lightweight format that is more compatible with a variety of software applications. Depending on your specific needs and use cases, either CSV or Excel may be the better choice for your data management tasks. Understanding the differences between these two formats can help you make an informed decision and streamline your data processing workflows.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is the difference between CSV and Excel?

    CSV (Comma Separated Values) is a plain text format that stores data in a tabular form, whereas Excel is a spreadsheet program that allows you to organise, manipulate and analyse data.

    2. Can I open a CSV file in Excel?

    You can open a CSV file in Excel using the import wizard. Excel will automatically convert the CSV file into a spreadsheet format.

    3. Which format is better for data storage, CSV or Excel?

    It depends on your specific needs. CSV is lightweight and easy to use but lacks advanced features such as formulas and formatting. Excel is more powerful and flexible but may be overkill for simple data storage tasks.

    4. Which format is more compatible with other software programs?

    CSV is more widely supported by other software programs and can be used as a standard format for data exchange, whereas Excel files may require specific software or versions to open properly.

    About the author:
    Proficient in Java, Python, and web development; has a knack for writing clearly about complex topics. Dedicated to giving readers the tools they need to learn more about computer science and technology.