Importing/Exporting CSV files with Unicode/UTF-8 characters (Chinese characters, Barcodes, etc.)

Simple CSV files do not support Unicode/UTF-8 characters. This is a limitation of the CSV format and not something that can be changed in DEAR. However, it is possible to import/export Unicode characters following these steps. 


Unicode/UTF-8 characters include:

  • Chinese characters
  • Any non-Latin scripts (Hebrew, Cyrillic, Japanese, etc.)
  • Symbols
  • Barcodes.


NOTE: If you export a file in the correct format and save it as a simple CSV, the characters will be overwritten and CANNOT be reverted to the correct format. If the overwritten file is then imported into DEAR, it will overwrite the characters in the system and they CANNOT be recovered. This is a limitation of the CSV format that is beyond DEAR's control.

We recommend keeping a backup in Excel format (.xls or .xlsx) with the correctly formatted Chinese characters (or other Unicode characters) in case files from DEAR get overwritten.

If data has been corrupted, there is nothing we can do; the only thing to do is to input the characters again in DEAR, or input the characters in Excel, save to CSV, and import.


Table of Contents


Exporting CSV files with Unicode characters

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You must first change the General Settings so export files use the correct encoding. 


  1. Navigate to Setting > General Settings > Organisation.
  2. Check that Export CSV File Encoding is set to Unicode.



Viewing and Editing CSV files with Unicode characters

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Unicode files CANNOT be opened in Excel by double-clicking the file – the Unicode characters will not display correctly and be damaged. If a file opened in this way is saved, it will overwrite and corrupt the exported file. 

You can check that correct details have been exported by opening the file in Notepad. To view Unicode characters in Excel, follow the steps below. 


NOTE: MS Excel for Mac 2011 does not open CSV files with Unicode encoding.


View Unicode characters in Excel:

  1. Open Excel from your menu or Desktop. DO NOT double-click the exported file to open Excel. 
  2. Navigate to Data > Get External Data > From Text. This may look a bit different depending on which version of Excel you are running.





  3. Navigate to the location of the CSV file you want to import.



  4. Choose the Delimited option.
  5. Set the character encoding File Origin to 65001: Unicode (UTF-8) from the dropdown list.
  6. Check My data has headers so that Excel recognises that the first row of the CSV file has column names.
  7. Click Next to display the second step of Text Import Wizard.



  8. Set the delimiter to Comma.
  9. Click Next to move on to the next step.



  10. Select all columns and set Column data format to Text.
  11. Click OK and then Finish.



  12. Keep the default values inside the Import Data dialogue and click OK.



  13. Now you can make modifications to the file and save the file as an Excel document or a CSV file. 


Importing CSV files with Unicode characters

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The final step is to import the modified file back into DEAR. You can import the file from the same screen that you exported from.


NOTE: You must only use the CSV file that you have JUST saved from the Excel file. If you open the CSV file, make changes, then save it again, this will remove all the UTF/Unicode characters. If you want to make changes, you must make them in the Excel file.

If a file with corrupted Unicode/UTF-8 characters is uploaded to DEAR, it will corrupt the data in DEAR and there is nothing we can do to restore it. The only thing to do is to input the characters again in DEAR, or input the characters in Excel, save to CSV, and import.


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