Formatting a CSV File

File-Based Importing works best with a few standardized formats that are specifically for transferring financial data. If CSV is your only option, you will need to properly format the file before you can import your transactions. 

In This Article

📆A note about date format: It doesn't matter if your file lists the day, month, or year first – YNAB is capable of recognizing a wide variety of date formats! If YNAB is unable to automatically detect the date format, you'll see a prompt to verify the correct format after you import your file. Keep in mind that once you've imported your transactions, the date format in your account register is determined by your Budget Settings.

CSV Converter

A fellow YNABer created this (unofficial) CSV converter which may help convert your CSV file from your bank into the format above. Check out these instructions to learn more. You're welcome to give it a try, though we aren't able to support it if it doesn't work for your bank's particular format.

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Formatting in a Spreadsheet

The most reliable way to get your CSV file in the right format is to open it in a spreadsheet editor like Google Sheets, Excel, or Numbers. Once you've opened your CSV you'll want to edit the file so it looks like one of the two options below, where there's a column header for Date, Payee, Memo, and Amount(s). 

a spreadsheet with columns for date, payee, memo, outflow, and inflow

a spreadsheet with columns for date, payee, memo, and amount; outflow indicated with minus sign

Your spreadsheet editor may look slightly different from the screenshots above, but you can download and open this sample CSV to see exactly how a properly formatted file appears in your editor. Once you have your file in one of these configurations, save it back to CSV format (usually found in the File menu, under 'Save As' or 'Export').

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Formatting in a Text Editor

If you don't have access to a spreadsheet editor, you can open your CSV file in a text editor and make the necessary changes. 

Option 1

In the example below, the first line is the header, the second line is an example outflow, and the last line is an example inflow.

06/22/21,Payee 1,Memo,100.00,
06/23/21,Payee 2,Memo,,500.00

Each field is separated by a comma, so it's important that every field is present in each line—even if your transactions don't fill every field. Always include "Date,Payee,Memo,Outflow,Inflow" header line at the very top. Any field can be left blank except the date.

Option 2

This format has one small variation—the amount is one field instead of two. Outflows are identified by a negative sign in the Amount field.

06/22/21,Payee 1,Memo,-100.00
06/22/21,Payee 2,Memo,500.00

Once your transaction data is formatted correctly, you're ready to import the file!

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