CSV vs Excel

Difference Between CSV and Excel

CSV and Excel or xls are two different file extensions containing data. The difference is that in CSV or comma-separated values, the data is in text format separated by commas, while in excel or Xls., information is in tabular form or, we say, in rows and columns. Moreover, the CSV file extension has no formatting in data, whereas in Excel, we can format the data as per our requirement.

CSV and Excel are two formats developed to store the data in the database and help the business organization carry out their business.

What is CSV (Comma Separated Value)?

CSV is a text file format where commas separate values and store the whole data accordingly. Therefore, CSV data can be easily opened in various text editors like notepad and can be analyzed for fetching and mining the needed details.

CSV File in Notepad

CSV File

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What is Excel?

In the current era, any corporate professional can hardly sustain without Excel. Excel allows them to do the data storage, processing, analyzing, and exporting in the required manner. Moreover, it is a highly structured and organized file format, specifically developed for the tabular data and to correlate the details from the various independent tables.

Excel data in Microsoft Excel


CSV vs Excel Infographics

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Key Differences Between CSV and Excel

The key differences are as follows: –

  • The full form of CSV is a comma-separated value, and MS Excel is Microsoft Excel.
  • Extension of the CSV file is “.csv” while the extension of the Excel file is “.xls or .xlsx”.
  • A CSV file must save the data in plain text format; image-related (JPEG, PNG, JPG, etc.) data is impossible to keep. While Excel is a binary format, all the image-related data is easily saved in Excel format.
  • CSV is a plain text file, and hence, it is a common file without any standardization or structuring. In comparison, Excel is highly standardized and structured by keeping in mind the requirements of the present corporate world.
  • CSV files can be open in any text editor like notepad and MS Excel, while Excel can be opened only in MS Excel or google sheetsMS Excel Or Google SheetsIn Google Sheets, we may share a link with other users to permit them to read or edit the sheet at the same time, however in Excel, only one person can edit the file at a time.read more.
  • A CSV file is a plain text file, and will store all the data by using a comma as a separator between two units of data; hence charts are not possible to keep in the CSV format. While Excel saves the data in binary form and can save all the data related to graphs.
  • CSV files cannot be directly linked with external sources. In contrast, Excel files can easily be integrated with external sources. The data extraction can also be directly linked to external sources.
  • Data analysis and manipulation can be done effectively and in a structured way in Excel, while it cannot do the same in the CSV format as the data in such format cannot be linked with any other data.
  • It is very easy to store CSV files as their size will always be smaller, while Excel files with an extensive database are very tough to store and maintain, as there is a high chance of getting corrupted or crashing.
  • CSV files are mostly used by professionals in data analysis or visualizations, while Excel is used by laymen and professionals based on their requirements and work purposes.

Comparative Table

BasisCSVMS Excel
Full-FormThe full form of CSV is comma-separated values.The full form of MS Excel is Microsoft Excel.
ExtensionCSV file having extension denoted as .csvExcel file having extension denoted as .xls/.xlsx
Launched inCSV format was released in 2005.MS Excel was released in 1987.
Saving Table DataAs CSV saves the data in plain text format, it is impossible to keep image-related data.As Excel saves the data in binary file format can easily store the image data in the same.
StandardizationCSV is just the plain text file; hence it is not standardized.Excel is highly standardized concerning data storage and related workings.
KindCSV is a format in which data is stored.MS Excel is a tool in which information is stored, and data analysis can be carried out.
PlatformWe can open CSV files in various kinds of text editors and Excel.           We can open Excel files only in MS Excel.
Charts and ImagesIt saves data in plain text format, but it cannot protect data like the chart.   MS Excel can easily save data like charts.
Linkage with external sourcesCSV files cannot link with external data and data updating.MS Excel files can connect with the external data sources and enable add-ins.
ManipulationCSV files do not allow any data manipulation. MS Excel allows all kinds of data manipulation and related data analysis.
StorageThe CSV file requires less storage and can be stored in minimum memory space.           The Excel file requires more storage and high memory space.
UsageMajor use in data analysis and visualization.  Excel is used from day-to-day operations to complex organizational decision-making.
Used ByProfessionals use the majority.They are used by laymen and professionals based on their requirements.


CSV and Excel are peculiar formats for storing the data and are used by various persons in a vast number. Both have their plus and negative points. But both can be judiciously utilized for data uploading, visualizations, analysis, and manipulation.

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This article has been a guide to CSV vs. Excel. Here, we discuss the top differences between CSV and Excel, along with infographics and a comparison table.

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