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Specifying a Delimiter when Saving a CSV File in a Macro

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Specifying a Delimiter when Saving a CSV File in a Macro.

When creating a CSV file using the menus to export a worksheet, Arkadiusz noted that he can specify that he wants to use a semicolon (;) as a field delimiter. However, if he saves a CSV file using a macro (FileFormat:=xlCSV or xlCSVWindows), then he cannot specify a semicolon as a delimiter.

This works this way by design in VBA. The Excel implementation of the export routines for VBA always use whatever the Windows regional settings are to determine how items in a CSV should be separated. Specifically, the routine looks at the List Separator field for the delimiter. This means that you can, if desired, change the delimiter to a semicolon by changing the List Separator setting in your regional settings configuration.

If you don't want to change the regional settings, then you can instead write your own macro that will output the file in any way you desire. Consider, for a moment, the following macro, which will output the file:

Sub CreateFile()
    FName = ActiveWorkbook.Name
    If Right(FName, 4) = ".xls" Then
        FName = Mid(FName, 1, Len(FName) - 4)
    End If

    Columns(1).Insert Shift:=xlToRight

    For i = 1 To Range("B65000").End(xlUp).Row
        TempString = ""
        For j = 2 To Range("HA1").End(xlToLeft).Column
            If j <> Range("HA1").End(xlToLeft).Column Then
                TempString = TempString & _
                  Cells(i, j).Value & ";"
            Else
                TempString = TempString & _
                  Cells(i, j).Value
            End If
        Next
        Cells(i, 1).Value = TempString
    Next

    Columns(1).Select
    Selection.Copy
    Workbooks.Add
    Range("A1").Select
    ActiveSheet.Paste
    Application.CutCopyMode = False

    ActiveWorkbook.SaveAs Filename:=FName & ".txt", _
      FileFormat:=xlPrinter
End Sub

This macro takes a unique approach to creating the output file. What it does is to insert a column at the left of your worksheet, and then concatenates all the data to the right of that column into the newly inserted column A. It adds a semicolon between each field. Once that is done, it grabs the information it put into column A and writes it into a new workbook. This workbook is then saved to disk using the xlPrinter file format, which means that it is put out "as is" without any modification whatsoever.

If you prefer a more direct approach, writing the information directly to a file without making changes to your worksheet, take a look at the macro at this blog post:

http://www.dicks-blog.com/archives/2004/11/09/roll-your-own-csv/

The macro uses commas between each field, but it can be easily modified so that it uses semicolons instead.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3232) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Specifying a Delimiter when Saving a CSV File in a Macro.

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Comments for this tip:

Scott Renz    17 Mar 2014, 10:40
Thanks Allen,

I have a problem though. Sometimes people put semi-colons and or double-quotation marks into their descriptions that go into some of the cells in the worksheet. When I open up that semi-colon separted file in Excel, some of the rows are truncated with the trailing parts after the truncation put into subsequent rows.

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