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Format upload files

Learn how to create and format CSV import files.

This article provides some tips on creating and formatting the files you upload to Analytics. These files must be formatted correctly or upload errors may occur.

In this article:

General considerations

  1. The data files must be uploaded in CSV (comma separated values) format.
  2. The CSV file's header must exactly match the target Data Set's schema. The order of the columns must be the same as that specified in the schema, and all column names must be use the internal ga. dimension or metric name, not the display name. (E.g., ga:source, not Source.)
  3. The uploaded data must be correctly formatted. See below for details.

Create the upload file

While you are free to use any method that works for you, there are two simple ways to create an upload file: using a text editor or using a spreadsheet application. No matter how you create the file, you'll need the Data Set schema in order to create the upload file header.

Get the schema

You can copy or download a Data Set's schema by editing the Data Set and clicking the Get schema button.

How to get the Data Set schema:
  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the property to which you want to upload data.
  3. In the PROPERTY column, select the property that contains the Data Set that will hold your data.
  4. Click Data Import.
  5. Click the target Data Set's Name link.
  6. Click the Get schema button (near the bottom of the page). This will display the dialog shown below.

Use a text editor

To create your upload file using a text editor, simply copy and paste the schema into the first line of a new file. You can then add your data, one record per row, under this header.

Be sure your editor creates plain text files. Rich text editors, such as Microsoft Word, should not be used unless you explicitly save your files as plain text (.txt). Rich text format contains additional formatting and control characters that will likely cause import errors.

Use a spreadsheet

To use a spreadsheet for your upload data, follow the steps above to get the Data Set schema. Then click the Download schema template button. This will place the schema headers in your Downloads directory. You can then open the schema in your favorite spreadsheet. Use the spreadsheet's Import function to bring in data you want to upload. When your file is ready for upload, use the Save As or Export function of your spreadsheet program and choose CSV as the output format.

Format the upload data

Data Import expects each line in your upload file to contain information about a single hit. The individual dimensions and metrics that make up that hit are separated from each other by commas. Each line in the file ends with a line break. If there are commas within the actual data you want to upload, that data must be surrounded by quotes. Probably the most common cause of content errors is improper use of commas, quote marks and line break characters in the uploaded data, so understanding how Data Import handles these can save you trouble down the road.

Commas

By definition, a CSV file uses commas to begin a new cell. In other words, when Data Import sees an unescaped comma, it assumes you are starting a new column entry. The example below shows properly formatted data:

abc123,29.99,Blue,XXL 
def345,100,Red,M
ghi678,1035.20,Green,S

In this case, Data Import sees four columns of data:

abc123 29.99 Blue XXL
def345 100 Red M
ghi678 1035.20 Green S

But what happens if we add an extra comma to the data, for example, by formatting the numeric column as currency (by adding a comma to mark the thousands position, like this?

ghi678,1,035.20,Green,S

Now, due to the extra comma, when you try to upload this file Data Import sees five columns, producing an upload table that looks like this:

abc123 29.99 Blue XXL
def345 100 Red M
ghi678 1 035.20 Green S

This will produce an error, such as the following:

“Error: column count does not match"

Quotes

Double quote marks can be used to "escape" a cell's value. Typically, you would surround a cell's value with quotes if the value contains a comma. Otherwise, Data Import will interpret the comma as the start of a new cell (see above).

Example:

ghi678,"1,035.20",Green,S

The value "1,035.20" will be treated as a single cell (however, Data Import will see it as a string, not a currency value).

When escaping a cell with quotes, the number of quotes must be balanced. If there is an odd number of quote marks in a given row, the import will fail with a message such as:

“Error: Invalid CSV format at row x.”

Line breaks

Line breaks within a CSV file are used to indicate the start of a new row. Data Import does not support line breaks within cells even if these are escaped by quotes. Extra line breaks within a row will cause an error in the number of columns in either that row or one of the following rows, producing an error message such as:

"Error: invalid CSV row format"

Next steps

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