Skip to main content
Glossary: CSV
Elisa Dinsmore avatar
Written by Elisa Dinsmore
Updated over a week ago

This article is for Flatfile's Portal 2.0, Portal 3.0, and Workspaces. If you'd like to check out the latest version of the Flatfile Data Exchange Platform, click here!

A comma-separated value (CSV) file is a type of text file that uses commas as a delimiter, or a character that is used to separate values. Most common spreadsheet software can parse CSV file formats, and, contrary to the name, many CSV files may use other delimiters, such as semi-colons, tab characters, or even empty spaces. To see what delimiters we support click here.

The idea for using commas as delimiters goes back to some of the earliest days of electronic computing. As early as 1972, the IBM Fortran (level H extended) compiler under OS/360 supported a rudimentary form of CSV file.

Today, CSVs are most often used to exchange data between programs that store things in otherwise incompatible formats. It is a kind of de facto standard format that can be read by myriad programs, is easy to work with, and can be easily transformed into other formats.

Did this answer your question?