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Updated January 21, 20193 minute read

Import structured data from a spreadsheet

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

In this article

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

Taggable content

You can map this field to multiple columns. We support all UTF-8 characters, including emoji, and the limit for content is 100,000 characters. This is a required field for notes but not tags.

Created date

You can map this field to one column. We recommend the ISO 8601 date format, otherwise YYYY/MM/DD HH:MM. This is an optional field.


You can map this field to one column. We support all UTF-8 characters, including emoji, and the limit for the title is 200 characters. This is an optional field.

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 your data into, then:

  1. Click Data.
  2. Click Import.
  3. Click Upload a CSV file with data.
  4. 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 Taggable content from the menu.
  3. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Sentiment analysis

If you’d like to analyze the sentiment of your data, keep the Analyze sentiment checkbox checked. Dovetail will add ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ tags to content that expresses a strong positive or negative sentiment.

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 (default) 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 100,000 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.

Contact support

Can’t find your answer here? Get in touch with our support team—we‘re here to help.

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