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How can I save an Excel spreadsheet to CSV and preserve the format?

Posted on 2014-12-24
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Last Modified: 2015-01-03
Spreadsheet with 2 columns, A and B.

Column A contains Item numbers, many of which start with leading zeros.  ie 00001,  00002, etc...
When you save the Excel spreadsheet to CSV it removes the leading zeros and the numbers show up only as 1, 2 etc..  it must keep the leading zeros.
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Question by:100questions
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9 Comments
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Glenn M
ID: 40516562
CSV is typically just ASCII text so there's no way I'm aware of to preserve any formatting. Even if you format the cells in Excel as text when you save as CSV the leading zeros will get stripped out.
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LVL 35

Expert Comment

by:Joseph Daly
ID: 40516572
This is correct. CSV files will not save formatting, spacing, font, color, etc. In its simplest form it is data in plain text seperated by commas. If you want those options you need to keep it in xls or xlsx format.
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LVL 45

Expert Comment

by:aikimark
ID: 40516607
If you format the cells/columns as text, you should be able to output a CSV file with the leading zeros preserved.

See the attached CSV for an example
Q-28586471.csv
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Glenn M
ID: 40516626
That's true aikimark. We don't know what application the posted will be opening the CSV file in. I know in Excel it will treat it as a general format and strip the zeros.
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LVL 45

Expert Comment

by:aikimark
ID: 40516671
If saved with a .txt file extension, Excel might be inclined to treat the column as text, especially if it is quote delimited.
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Danny Child
ID: 40517288
If you can start your text with an ' (apostrophe) character, you can then add as many leading zeros as you want, and if saving to CSV, then the formatting should be preserved.

HOWEVER, if you open the CSV in Excel again, the formatting is lost - even with double-quotes " around them.

So, it seems to be a one-way trip.  Does this work for you?  Why do you need ad CSV, please? Where's the data going....?
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Ejgil Hedegaard
ID: 40517966
It is not a one way trip.
As alkimark says
Excel might be inclined to treat the column as text
If the csv file is imported to Excel using the data import wizard, you can define the column to be treated as text, and the leading zeros are preserved.
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Accepted Solution

by:
100questions earned 0 total points
ID: 40521918
Solution:  When saving it to a csv, do not open that saved file with Excel, open it with Notepad.  The format will not be disrupted to the leading zeros.
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Author Closing Comment

by:100questions
ID: 40528939
This works.
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