Preparing a file for importing

This article is part of the Insightly Importing Guide

Importing to a new CRM can be tricky. Because there are so many ways your customer information might be stored in a spreadsheet, cleaning and organizing your data before importing will make the process easier.

Before you make changes to a file, save a copy of the original in case you need to refer to it later. For best results, save your file to a CSV format when you've checked all the following items.

Rows & columns

When you open your file in Excel or Google Sheets, each column in your spreadsheet should represent a single field. The first row will contain the name of each piece of information (like "First Name" or "Phone Number").

In this example for contacts, each column represents first name, last name, title, organization, and work phone:


Each of the remaining rows in the spreadsheet will represent a single contact (or lead, or organization, or opportunity... whatever it is you're importing).

You can see that Dwight, Pam, Michael, and Jim each have their own row with their own information:

If you have extra rows with notes or other information, you'll need to remove that information or move it into the same row as the record it applies to.

In the file below, Insightly won't recognize that the notes belong to Dwight and Pam, because the notes are not on the same row as those contacts. Notes can be imported, but they're special, so we have a special article to help you with them.

Field types

Some fields in Insightly only accept certain types of information. Date fields have to be actual dates, so "Next Week" could cause a record's import to fail. Value fields for opportunities have to be numbers, so "one thousand" would not work and will need to be changed to 1000 — no punctuation, no currency symbols, no words. Try manually entering a test record in Insightly and type in a value if you're not sure what's acceptable.

When you're preparing a file that you plan to use for updating existing records during an import, it will have to include a Record ID field with a number. This ID number will be used to match the information from your file to the correct Insightly records.

Custom fields

If your file contains special fields that aren't covered by the defaults provided by Insightly (names, addresses, etc.), you'll need to create a custom field in Insightly before importing. See Importing records with custom fields.


Tags are used as another way to label your records. They tend to be less structured than custom fields, but you can still import them from one or more columns in your file. See Importing records with tags.

Mailing addresses

Create a separate column or field in your file for each part of an address (street address, city, state, postal code, and country).

Special characters

Insightly supports Unicode character encoding, which is a standard that helps the CRM accommodate many languages and scripts. When a file you are importing contains special characters (for example: ö, Ę, or Ñ), save the file as a CSV file with UTF-8 encoding for best results. You can usually do this by opening a file in a text editing program, choosing File > Save As, and then choosing from the Encoding option.

You can also try saving it as an Excel (.xlsx) file, although some Excel files may include extra code that could cause other problems.

Other housekeeping

While you're looking through your file, keep an eye out for duplicates, misspellings, missing information, and any special naming conventions you use. Correct anything that needs fixing to prevent bad data from getting into your CRM.

With a clean file and the fields ready in your CRM, you're ready to start importing!

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