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Import structured data from a spreadsheet

You can bulk create multiple notes or tags by uploading a CSV file.

You can create multiple notes or tags from a CSV file. This is handy for importing data like NPS feedback, survey responses, and customer feedback to analyze in Dovetail, or if you have an existing set of tags you’d like to import.

Suitable data

CSV import is primarily designed for creating lots of small—to—medium notes, not importing large, formatted documents like interview transcripts. Your data should have at least one column for the title of each note or tag, and then as many columns as you like for the content of the note.

Preparing your CSV file

You’ll need a sheet from Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, or Numbers saved as a UTF-8 encoded Comma Separated Value (CSV) file.

The first row needs to be the title of each column. For example, if you’re importing survey responses, the first row should contain values like Name and Email, along with your questions like “Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?” and so on. (The answer is “to get to the same side.”)

Supported fields

Importing notes or tags from an CSV file have different requirements.

Note fields Required Map to multiple columns Format
Content Yes Yes Text (300,000 character limit)
Created date No No ISO 8601 date format or YYYY/MM/DD HH:MM.
Title No No Text (200 character limit)

Any fields that have been added to notes will also be available as fields to import into.

Tag fields Required Map to multiple columns Format
Description No Yes Text (300,000 character limit)
Created date No No ISO 8601 date format or YYYY/MM/DD HH:MM.
Title Yes No Text (200 character limit)

Choose your file

Once you’ve got your CSV file in the correct format with the right columns, open the project you’d like to import to.

To import notes click Data, or to import tags click Tags, then:

  1. Click Import.
  2. Click Create from a spreadsheet.
  3. Choose a .csv file.

Map columns

The next step is to select columns to import from your spreadsheet. If your spreadsheet contains a date column, Dovetail might have already detected it, and it’ll be green.

Dovetail’s spreadsheet column-mapping interface

First, decide which column to set as the title:

  1. Open the select menu for a column.
  2. Choose Title from the menu.

Next, decide which columns to import as content. These columns will be imported as the ‘body’ of note. This will be the data you will highlight and tag, or if you’re importing tags, this will be the description for the tag.

  1. Open the select menu for a column.
  2. Choose Content (for notes) or Description (for tags) from the menu.
  3. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Optionally, if you’re importing notes, you can map any columns as fields on a note:

  1. Open the select menu for a column.
  2. Choose the field you wish to map, or
  3. Create a new field to map the column to.

Sentiment analysis

If you’d like to analyze the sentiment of your imported notes, keep the Analyze sentiment checkbox checked. Dovetail will add ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ tags to content that expresses a strong positive or negative sentiment. Sentiment analysis is not available when importing tags.

Learn more about automatic sentiment analysis

Start the import

Next to the button Import rows, open the select menu after ‘as’ and decide whether you’d like to import your data as notes or tags. Open the select menu after ‘into’ and choose what group to put the imported data in.

Lastly, click Import rows to start the import. Dovetail will import the data in the green columns for every rows.

That’s it!

Troubleshooting steps

Here are a few things to note about CSV import:

  • Formatting like headings, bold, italics, lists, tables, and images are not supported when importing from a CSV. They may cause a failure.
  • The maximum length for notes is 300,000 characters. No single cell in your CSV file should exceed this limit. This will cause a failure.
  • Dovetail will interpret two newline characters as separate paragraphs.
  • Your file needs to be encoded as UTF-8 (this is usually the default).
  • Your CSV file should end in a .csv file extension.
4 minute read
Updated 17 Oct 2019


Kai Forsyth

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