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Import data: Import text files into Excel 2003

Different types of text files: .txt, .csv, and .prn

Callout 1 Data in a tab delimited (.txt) file.
Callout 2 Data in a comma separated value (.csv) file.
Callout 3 Data in a fixed-length or space delimited (.prn) file.

Before getting down to the business of importing text files, here's a little information about what a text file is.

Basically, text files contain plain text, that is, text without formatting. There are no special fonts, hyperlinks, or images.

In text files, data is split by delimiters, characters that separate each field of text. Here are some types of text files and their delimiters:

  • .txt files     These are tab delimited files. A tab usually separates each column.
  • .csv files     These are comma separated value files. A comma (,) usually separates each column.
  • .prn files     These are fixed-length or space delimited files. Several spaces usually separate each column.

No matter what type of text file you have, there are two different ways of importing it. Which one you use depends in part on your preference and on whether you want to update the data in Excel if the external data changes in the future.

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