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csv – Date format that is guaranteed to be recognized by Excel

Posted by: admin March 9, 2020 Leave a comment

Questions:

We’re exporting our analytics reports in various formats, among them CSV. For some clients this CSV finds it’s way into Excel.

Inside the CSV file one of the columns is a Date, for example

"Start Date","Name"
"07-04-2010", "Maxim"

Excel has trouble parsing this date format, obviously depending on the Locale of the user. Is “07” is the day or the month…

Could you recommend some textual format for a Date field that excel will not have trouble parsing? I’m aiming at the most fail safe option possible. I would settle for some escape sequence that will cause excel to avoid parsing the text in the column altogether.

Thanks for helping,
Maxim.

How to&Answers:

You have two options. Go with the month as a string and the year as 4 digits, or use ISO formatting: yyyy-mm-dd.

Answer:

If you format your dates as follows in the csv output, Excel will parse the content exactly as a date (other columns for realism only)

43,somestring,="03/03/2003",anotherval
55,anotherstring,="01/02/2004",finalval

so add =”{date}” and it parses as date!