How to import a CSV file into Excel

Microsoft has changed the import procedure for CSV files. A new wizard imports a CSV file into Excel quite straightforwardly, and the imported tables look fine at first glance. However, imported numbers are stored as text in the Excel sheet. You realize this when you try to use the SUM function, and the result is 0. It’s a significant hassle to work with the imported information. 

Search results from Microsoft are not helpful or cover old versions; the same is true of contributions from the Answer Microsoft community.

In this article, I will show you how to import a CSV file into Excel using the latest version of Excel 365. While an earlier version of Excel had a different CSV import wizard, the new one in Excel 365 uses Power Query, which offers a lot of functionality.

First, I will show you how you should not import a CSV file into Excel and then a better way to avoid a headache later. 

How you should not import a CSV file into Excel

  • Open Excel, go to the ‘Data’ ribbon, and click the icon from text/CSV
  • A dialog box appears, and choose the CSV file to import
  • A window will appear to parse the CSV file; everything looks okay
  • Click ‘Load’ or ‘Load to?
CSV import wizard

The problem with this procedure is that Excel stores numbers as text, and you cannot use the numbers for calculation.

How you should import a CSV file into Excel

  • Open Excel, go to the ‘Data’ ribbon, and click the icon from text/CSV
  • A dialog box appears, and choose the CSV file to import
  • A window will appear to parse the CSV file; everything looks okay
  • Click ‘Transform Data
  • The new Excel ‘Power Query Editor’ will open.
Excel Power Query Editor
  • Highlight the column(s) with numbers.
  • Click the ribbon ‘Transform’ and Data Type ‘Decimal Numbers’ in the screenshot below. 
Excel tranform
  • Click ‘Replace Current’ to confirm changing the data type
Power Query change column type
  • Now Click ‘Home’ on the Ribbon and then ‘Close & Load.’
Close and Load
  • Excel will load the CSV file into Excel suitably formatted.

The Power Query Editor in the newer Excel 365 Version is very powerful and helps import big data from various sources. However, it may not be the best tool for importing data from a simple CSV file due to its complexity and the time it takes to set up.

The old import wizard for CSV files was easier to understand.

I’m an accountant who often imports accounts with balances from accounting software into Excel. Believe me or not, I often wasted a lot of time importing a CSV file into Excel the wrong way until I figured it out. I wanted to share my experience with you.

I can even update the CSV file from my accounting software; I only need to refresh the Excel sheet’s data. To do so, select a cell in the table, right-click, and choose ‘refresh.’



I would love to get some feedback from you. Was this article helpful? Please share your opinion with me in the comment section below. Or, if you prefer a more personal touch, feel free to email me directly at [email protected]. Your thoughts and insights are always appreciated.

Before you go …

After mastering importing CSV files into Excel, as detailed in the previous guide, you might be considering broader aspects of data management and security within your digital workspace. A critical component is ensuring all your Office 365 data is safely backed up.

I recommend transitioning smoothly to enhancing your data protection strategy by reading about Office 365 backup. This article will guide you through the necessary steps to secure your Office 365 data, offering peace of mind and a comprehensive data management and recovery approach.

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