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CSV/TSV Upload Issues

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About CSV/TSV Upload Issues

While CSV files can use either UTF-8 or ASCII encoding, Qualtrics only supports CSV with UTF-8 encoding and TSV. This discrepancy between encoding can sometimes cause issues when importing or exporting data from CSV / TSV files into Qualtrics.

Although there are many places in the platform where CSV / TSV files are used, the most common include:

This page outlines possible errors that may occur and the steps that can be taken to overcome these issues.

Trouble Importing CSV/TSV Files

There are a few issues that commonly arise when importing files:

  • All data displays in the first column, or column breaks are not obeyed correctly when you import the file. This is caused by an incorrect delimiter.
  • Issues with special characters displaying correctly. In general, “special characters” refers to any symbols or letters except for numbers or the English alphabet.
  • The file doesn’t match the standard formatting required.

Incorrect Delimiter Issues

The delimiter is the character that separates fields and values in a spreadsheet file. When the importer does not recognize the correct delimiter, it can read the file in a way that combines columns altogether, or breaks out columns at incorrect intervals. When dealing with an incorrect delimiter, the delimiter setting must be changed.

Example: Below is a possible error message that might occur when importing a contact list with an incorrect delimiter. Notice how all of the information about John Doe is running together, separated only by commas.

A screenshot of a contact upload where the contact's information is all bunched together instead of being separated into different columns of information

We resolve this issue by changing the delimiter to “Comma.” Now notice how John Doe’s information is separated into different fields instead of being bunched together.

Contact upload where everything is normal

Changing Delimiters When Importing Data

When importing data, Qualtrics generally picks a delimiter based on your data file’s format. However, you can follow these steps if you are still having upload issues.

  1. Navigate to the Import Data menu.
    Inside a survey, the data and analysis tab, and inside that, the export & import option next to tools. second option inside menu that opens is import data
  2. Click Browse and select your file.
  3. Change the Delimiter to Tab (for TSV files) or Comma (for CSV files that are delimited using the , symbol), as required.
    the delimiter dropdown menu for choosing a line delimiter

Changing Delimiters When Importing Contacts

  1. Navigate to the Add Contacts menu.
  2. Select Show Options.
    Inside Add Contact menu, show options text in blue next to grayed out "reload" button
  3. Change the Delimiter to Tab (for TSV files) or Semicolon (for CSV files that are delimited using the ; symbol), as required.
    Delimiter set to Comma in Import from a File tab
Qtip: If your account is not in English, you may have to manually enter the delimiter as a symbol (e.g. ; for the semicolon).

Special Character Issues

When dealing with special character encoding issues, the file type must be changed.

Qualtrics supports UTF-8 encoding for CSV files. This can cause issues with special characters when uploading CSV files from Excel (which defaults to ASCII encoding) into Qualtrics. For example, without reformatting, special characters like 是 or ñ may not show correctly upon import.

Example: Notice how in row 2 and in row 4, the characters’ in these contacts’ names have been replaced with random symbols.

CSV file where chinese characters are replaced with underscores, and the apostrophe in a last name become random symbols

There are two possible solutions for issues related to special characters:

Using Microsoft Excel

  1. Select File and then Save As.
  2. Change your file type to either Unicode Text (*.txt) if you are using Excel on Windows or CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited) (.csv) if you are using Excel on Mac.
  3. Select Save.
  4. Upload the new file to Qualtrics.

Using Google Sheets

  1. Import this file to Google Sheets.
  2. In Google Sheets, select File, then select Download as, and choose Comma-separated values.
  3. Do not open the file in Excel again.
  4. Upload the file directly to Qualtrics.
Qtip: If you make any changes to the CSV file on your computer before uploading, be sure to go through the steps again in order to upload the edited file.

Standard Formatting

Remember, when importing data to any part of Qualtrics, make sure you are following the standard formatting. This means:

  • The file is CSV or TSV, not XLS or any other Excel format.
  • If the file’s a CSV, it is UTF-8 encoded.
  • The headers of the file are correctly formatted.

Header Formatting

Qualtrics will often provide example files right inside the product when you open the importer, which can be used as a reference for importing data. You can also see the following support pages for guidance on how to format the headers, depending on the feature you are using:

CoreXM / Survey Software:

XM Directory

CX Dashboards:

EmployeeXM:

PX

Please note that not all the features listed above are available in all licenses.

Trouble With Exported CSV Files

If you’re having issues with a CSV file you downloaded from Qualtrics, it may be due to how the file is formatted. There are two common issues:

  • All data displays in the first column, or column breaks are not obeyed correctly when you import the file. This is caused by an incorrect delimiter.
  • Issues with special characters displaying correctly. In general, “special characters” refers to any symbols or letters except for numbers or the English alphabet.

Incorrect Delimiter Issues

  1. Download your CSV file from Qualtrics. See Exporting Response Data for detailed instructions on downloading survey responses.
    Qtip: You can technically download a CSV in many different places in Qualtrics, such as a contact list, and XM Directory mailing list, or an employee participant list, but downloading response data is the most common example. Note that the pages linked in this Qtip may reference features only available in some licenses.
  2. Open the file in Excel.
  3. Select the first column in your spreadsheet.
    Data within one column separated by semicolons. First column is highlighted. Up top in navigation ribbon, look for Data. Below that, off to the right, the text and columns button
  4. Select the Data tab.
  5. Select Text to Columns.
  6. Choose Delimited and select Next.
    Delimited chosen. Ignore rest and click blue next button
  7. Change the delimiter value to the value that is being used in the Excel document. In our example, you can see that the data is separated by semicolons, so the delimiter value must be set to Semicolon.
    Semicolon checkbox in Delimiters section. Finish button in white bottom-right, beside the Next button
  8. Select Finish and then continue working with your file as normal.

Special Character Issues

Qualtrics supports UTF-8 encoding for CSV files. This can cause issues with special characters displaying properly when opening CSV files in Excel, which defaults to ASCII encoding.

There are two possible solutions for issues relating to special characters:

Using a TSV File

Simply choose the TSV file format when downloading your data from Qualtrics. Qualtrics’ TSV files are UTF-8 encoded, which prevents the problem of special characters not displaying properly. For a guide on how to use TSV files, please see the Opening TSV Files section below.

Using Google Sheets

You can also use Google Sheets to convert your CSV file into an XLS file. This file type is specifically designed for Excel and will open without issue. Please note that XLS files cannot be imported back into Qualtrics.

  1. Download your CSV file from Qualtrics. See Exporting Response Data for detailed instructions on downloading survey responses.
    Qtip: You can technically download a CSV in many different places in Qualtrics, such as a contact list, and XM Directory mailing list, or an employee participant list, but downloading response data is the most common example. Note that the pages linked in this Qtip may reference features only available in some licenses.
  2. Open the CSV file in Google Sheets.
  3. In Google Sheets, save your file as an XLS file.
  4. Download the file to your computer and proceed as normal in Excel.

Opening TSV Files

TSV files and TXT files are tab delimited text files. Most computers default to opening TXT files in text editors, such as Microsoft Word or Notepad. If you click on your TSV file and it opens in a text editor, you can follow these steps to open the file in Excel instead.

Using “Open With…” to Open TSV Files with Excel

  1. Download your TSV file from Qualtrics.
  2. Navigate to the folder the file was saved in.
  3. Right-click on the file.
  4. Select Open With and select Excel.
  5. You can now use the file in Excel.
Qtip: Depending on your operating system and setup, Excel might not be in the default list of programs. Try clicking Open With and selecting More Options. If you still do not see Excel as an option, then your computer is not configured to recognize TSV files as a valid file type for Excel. To set up Excel as a default option for TSV files, follow these steps from the Microsoft Support Website. This only needs to be set up once and will then allow you to open all future TSV files with Excel. Alternately, you can use the steps found under Text Import Into Microsoft Excel below.

Text Import Into Microsoft Excel

Sometimes users may not have Open With as an option to select their default program for