How to Re-order CSV Files For Importing

By Steve Scheidecker -- Get free updates of new posts here

It’s quite common for the transmission of data between marketing applications to utilize the CSV format. One problem that is often encountered is that the order of columns do not match resulting in failed imports or misidentified information. When you import a CSV file make sure that the format matches the format specified by the application, failing to take this step can cause trouble!

For today’s quick tip, I’ll walk you through re-formatting a CSV file. In our mock example we’ll be exporting email addresses from Gmail and importing them into our email marketing software.

1. Identify Import Data Structure

Our email marketing software states that data should be formatted like this:


2. Export CSV

We export email addresses from Gmail, the order of the CSV file does not match the necessary import format. In fact Gmail exports 88 columns of data, way more than demanded by our email software! Start by opening the CSV file with Excel. (Or Numbers if you’re using a Mac) You should see something similar to the screen below.


3. Delete Un-Needed Columns

There are 3 ways to delete un-necessary columns: single column delete, multiple column delete or range delete.

(A) Single column delete. Right click the letter at the top of the column, then choose “Delete Column”

(B) Multiple column delete. Click the letter at the top of the first column you’d like to delete. Hold down the “CTRL” key (or, “COMMAND” key on Mac) and click the letters at the top of additional columns. Once you have all the columns selected simply right click on one of the selected columns then choose “Delete Selected Columns”


(C) Range column delete. Click the letter at the top of the first column you’d like to delete. Hold down the “SHIFT” key and click the last column you’d like to delete. All of the columns between the first and last columns will be selected. Right click on one of the selected columns and choose “Delete Selected Columns”


4. Re-order Columns

Once you have all of the un-needed columns deleted you’ll need to re-order the remaining columns. To re-order a column click the letter at the top and hold down for 2 seconds without moving you’re mouse. After 2 seconds you can drag the column left or right to re-order it.


5. Add Missing Columns

It’s likely that there will be some columns that are missing from your data. It’s important to add columns so that your data format matches the format requested by the application. To add a column right click on a column then click “Add Column After” or “Add Column Before”


Once the column is added click on the first row and enter the name of the column.


6. Export Formatted CSV

Once your data structure matches the requested import format you’re ready to save a new CSV file. Go to “File” then “Export To” then “CSV”. Save the new CSV to an easy to remember location.


7. Success

You are now ready to import you’re properly formatted CSV!

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