Why are CSV exports not preserving special characters?

Update: Excel 2007 and higher automatically detects encoding and does not require the steps below. If you are using an older version follow these steps:

Extended characters (UTF-8 characters) can be preserved if the spreadsheet program opens the file with UTF-8 encoding.  For Excel it does not support opening CSV files with special characters, or UTF-8 characters, but there is a workaround. Below are the steps for preserving special characters in a csv import: (this may vary by different Excel versions)

  1. Open Excel
  2. Import the data using Data–>Import External Data –> Import Data (or From Text option)
    If you’re on OSX, the menu option is File –> Import.
  3. Select the file type of “csv” and browse to your file
  4. In the import wizard change the File Origin to “65001 Unicode (UTF 8)” (or choose correct language character identifier)
  5. Change the Delimiter to comma
  6. Select where to import to and Finish

excel-csv-import

If you happen to be using Open Office or Libre Office when the file is opened there is an option to select UTF-8.  For example:

oss-import-csv

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