Why does Excel display CSV data in 1 column

Sometimes when opening a CSV file using Microsoft Excel, all data appears in the first cell or column. This can be quite frustrating and annoying. However, there is a simple solution to easily reading the file within Excel. The solution simply involves using the Import Data function.

Importing data in CSV format

CSV data in 1 column

The reason why this may occur is due to the operating system’s regional and language options. For example, when using the English version of Microsoft Windows XP operating system the default language selected is English (United States). Due to this default setting, the list separator (also known as the delimiter within CSV files) indicated by the operating setting is a comma (,). Therefore, when you try to open a CSV file using Excel, Microsoft Excel will assume the data is comma separated. If the CSV file uses a semicolon (;), then Excel will simply import the data in the first cell or column.

Importing data in CSV format

Microsoft XP Regional and Language Settings

THE SOLUTION: The Import Data Feature

If data only appears in the first cell or column when opening a CSV file, then use the Import Data feature. The feature allows you to identify how the data is separated and even displays a preview of the imported data.

Import data from CSV to Excel

Microsoft Excel 2003 Import Data Feature

Here are links to official Microsoft Excel guides explaining how to use the Import Data feature in different versions of Excel:

Hello, I am Dominic Iafigliola, a software engineer turned entrepreneur. Throughout my career, I have worked closely with small and large businesses to successfully deploy software applications. It wasn't long before I designed and launched my very own SAAS scheduling software. Nowadays I help businesses around the world save time booking appointments and managing schedules. I am fascinated by technology and will share tips on what's new and how you can use technology in your day-to-day.
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