CSV vs XLSX - Difference Between CSV and XLSX

Data management is a crucial part of any organization. It is stored in various formats and is used for various purposes. Two of the most popular formats for storing data are CSV and XLSX.

They have their own advantages and limitations, similarities and differences. In this article, we will discuss the difference between CSV and XLSX.

    Table of Contents

  1. What is CSV
    1. Advantages of CSV
    2. Limitations of CSV
  2. What is XLSX
    1. Advantages of XLSX
    2. Limitations of XLSX
  3. Difference between CSV and XLSX
  4. Conclusion

What is CSV?

CSV stands for Comma-Separated Values. It's a simple, text-based format used for storing and exchanging tabular data.

Each line of the file is a data record. Each record consists of one or more fields, separated by commas. The use of the comma as a field separator is the source of the name for this file format.

CSV files are most popular choice for moving tabular data between two different computer programs, for example, between a database program and a spreadsheet program.

CSV file example
CSV file example

Advantages of CSV

Limitations of CSV

What is XLSX?

XLSX is a file extension for an open XML spreadsheet file format used by Microsoft Excel. It is a default file format for Excel 2007 and later versions.

XLSX is based on the XML standard and consists of worksheets with rows and columns. The file contains a combination of XML and binary data. XLSX files are compressed to reduce file size.

XLSX is a file format associated with Microsoft Excel but can be opened and edited by other spreadsheet software applications.

XLSX file example
XLSX file example

Advantages of XLSX

Limitations of XLSX

Difference between CSV and XLSX

The following table summarizes the differences between CSV and XLSX.

File FormatText-basedCombination of XML and binary data
CompatibilityWidely compatibleExcel-specific
Data OrganizationSingle sheetMultiple sheets
Cell TypesLimited to text, numbers, and symbolsSupports various data types and formatting
Formula SupportNo support for formulasExtensive support for formulas and functions
Storage EfficiencyCompact, smaller file sizeLarger file size due to structured data
Editing ToolsBasic text editors, spreadsheet softwareSpecialized software (e.g., Microsoft Excel)
Data IntegrityMay lose formatting and special charactersMaintains data integrity and formatting
Usage FlexibilityEasier for basic data exchangeMore suitable for complex data manipulation
Visual PresentationLimited formatting optionsExtensive formatting options for visual appeal
Platform IndependenceUniversally readableExcel-dependent
Data SecurityNo built-in security featuresSupports password protection and encryption
PerformanceFaster processing due to simplicitySlower processing due to complex structure
Software DependenciesFewer dependencies on specific softwareRelies on Excel or software compatible with XLSX
Import/Export CapabilitiesSeamless integration across applicationsMay encounter compatibility issues with some software
File Size LimitationsNoneMaximum capacity: 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns per sheet.
Best Suited ForBasic data exchangeComplex data manipulation

Here is infographic representation of the difference between CSV and XLSX.

CSV vs XLSX infographic
CSV vs XLSX infographic


Both CSV and XLSX are popular file formats but the choice between them depends on the purpose of use: