CSV File Format Specification

Best practice for business-to-business operations.

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CSV (comma-separated values) is a simple file format that is widely used by business and scientific applications. However, there is no universally accepted CSV file format specification. CSV-1203 (pdf) is a free open standard which attempts to provide a complete, accurate and reliable description of the CSV file format as used by companies for information exchange.

A standard with benefits

By adopting this standard, you place a prudent limit on the otherwise countless variations that could be implemented by systems developers. Its benefits are clearest when a CSV file forms an information bridge between two companies. Typically you should expect this standard to help reduce the time it takes to establish a data processing connection between your company and your clients or your service providers.

It is possible that your IT department has already adopted the measures of this standard, but simply have no formal documentation to support that position. You are welcome to refer to this document when discussing file exchanges with any other organization. The only condition for using this standard is that you respect the author's copyright by not publicly re-publishing all or part of its contents.

Open standard

Should you wish to contribute to the contents of this standard, please contact the author using the feedback form on this website.

Please be aware this standard may be revised and refined over time. The latest release can be freely downloaded as a PDF from here:






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