What Is the Difference Between CSV and Excel (XLS) Files?

What is difference between excel and csv?

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Difference Between xls and xlsx or CSV Microsoft File Format | What is CSV File Fomat | ExpoHub

What is an XLS file?

A specific spreadsheet file for Microsoft Excel is known as an “XLS file.” Google Docs and other word processors can also open XLS files, but only Microsoft Excel software can open files with this proprietary file extension. XLS files are often either . xls or . Depending on the Microsoft Word version being used, xlsx

A text editor cannot open an Excel file after saving it, unlike a CSV file. The file extension is more useful for warehousing, bookkeeping, and other business applications because XLS files can store numerous sheets and thousands of lines of data in a single file.

What is a CSV file?

The file format CSV, which stands for “comma-separated values,” contains entries in plain text and commas. A CSV file is straightforward and adaptable, using less memory and supporting the majority of text editors, word processors, and spreadsheet programs. A comma, which is used to separate distinct items in CSV files, may inadvertently be misread because CSV files are frequently sensitive to a computer’s regional settings. You can fix this by renaming the extension to . txt from . csv and opening it with a text editor.


There are some key differences between CSV and XLS files. Although each has uses for both personal and professional use, there are restrictions on both that may prevent you from using them in some circumstances. Here are some key differences between the two:

1. Memory use

Compared to their counterpart, CSV files use a lot less system memory. This implies that CSV files might download more quickly, open and save more quickly, and occupy less space on a physical hard drive. To open and edit XLS files, specific programs or applications are needed, which consumes additional memory and physical drive storage.

2. Editing and saving

The fact that CSV files can be opened in a basic text editor or another application is one of their biggest benefits. CSV files can be opened, edited, and saved without using special software or programs. XLS files, however, execute with Microsoft Excel and the extensions . xls and . xlsx can help you identify such files.

XLS files may execute with other software, such as:

3. VBA coding

The proprietary coding language VBA, or visual basic application, is used in XLS files and is typically incompatible with CSV files. This programming language enables automated operations and mathematical operations in Excel files.

4. Customization and integration

XLS files offer integration tools for third-party software and may be more customizable than CSV files. CSV only functions as a simple editor and does not provide any customization or integration.

5. Converting files

You can change your CSV files to XLS or XLS to CSV using Microsoft Excel. Although CSV is raw data, it is occasionally required when sending large files or for particular applications. Similar functionality is also available in Google Docs, where users can save spreadsheets as either xlsx, . pdf, . html and . tsv files.

6. Aesthetics

In addition to functionality, the two files’ visual appeal varies. Excel sheets, also known as XLS files, are frequently more aesthetically pleasing due to their organization, ability to be customized in terms of layout and color schemes, and other features. Because they are plain text documents, CSV files are simpler than XLS files.

7. Large data sets

Because of the customization features provided by XLS files, reading large data sets is made easier and more efficient. Specific cells or groups of cells can be individually selected, moved, copied, pasted, and edited. In CSV files, this isnt an option.

8. Graphs and charts

CSV files only provide a plain text representation of the data, whereas XLS files support adding charts and graphs to the file.

9. Collaboration tools

XLS files allow real-time collaboration via cloud storage and applications. For instance, you can edit an Excel sheet via Microsoft’s OneDrive or a Google Sheet in real-time via Google Drive. This compatibility is not provided by CSV files, which must be sent individually and opened to be edited.

Who uses XLS and CSV files?

Each file format is used by both companies and individuals for a variety of purposes. Here are a few examples:

When should you use these files?

There are some circumstances where using one file format instead of the other may be preferable. The following are some examples of the best uses for each of them:


The XLS format is useful in many contexts, but is most frequently used for:


The CSV format is best used for:

Please note that Indeed is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned in this article.


Is Excel and CSV same?

CSV and Excel or . xls are two different file extensions containing data. The distinction is that the data is presented in text format and is divided by commas in CSV, or comma-separated values. While in Excel or xls. , information is in tabular form in rows and columns.

When should I use CSV vs XLSX?

When transferring data between platforms, CSV files are frequently used to return the data to its “raw” state so that it can be processed by various applications. This is the most flexible data format. XLSX is the file extension for a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet.

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