Origin - Importing ASCII Data
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ASCII Import

Origin includes the ability to import ASCII, or text, data in a variety of ways. For simple ASCII data files, Origin includes a Single, as well as Multiple ASCII import option that requires only a file selection. For more complicated ASCII files, Origin includes a handy Import Wizard. The Import Wizard supports single and multiple ASCII file import as well as the import of ASCII data via the Clipboard. This feature is very useful when bringing in data from, for example, a website.

This wizard includes a data preview window to assist you in determining how your data is organized. It also includes the ability to extract header information into useful variables. And, to further speed up the import process, the Import Wizard includes an Import Filter File feature that allows you to store your import settings in a file. This file is then used automatically whenever Origin senses you are importing data of a similar format. Once a filter file has been defined you can open files directly through the File:Open dialog, as well as drag and drop them onto Origin!

ASCII data imported using Drag and Drop

Drag and drop your ASCII data to bring it into Origin. Import filter files allow you to set up the import once, then quickly import the data by dragging and dropping it onto the Origin workspace.


What is ASCII data?

An ASCII data file consists of rows and columns of alphanumeric characters. Since ASCII data files are simply text files, they can be opened in any word processing program or Internet browser. However, in order to analyze the data, the ASCII file should be read into a statistical, database, or spreadsheet software package, such as Origin.

ASCII files come in one of two formats:

Fixed Format: Each record of the file is the same length and the precise location of the data for each variable is in the same column on every line of data.

Free Format: The length of the records of the file may vary. Variables are found in a specified sequence but not in the same column locations for each record. Variables are separated from one another by a delimiter (i.e., a special character such as a comma or tab).

How can I Import ASCII data into Origin?

Origin allows you to import ASCII data into a worksheet or, in some cases, directly into a graph. The following routines/features are provided for ASCII import:

  • Single ASCII Import - This feature allows you to import one ASCII data file using the options defined in the ASCII Options dialog.
  • Multiple ASCII Import - This feature allows you to import one or more ASCII data file using the options defined in the ASCII Options dialog. You can also specify which template(s) to use when importing each data file.
  • ASCII Options - This dialog can be used to configure Origin's import settings to suit your file format.
  • Import Wizard - The Import Wizard allows you to import ASCII, as well as Binary and User Defined data files. The steps required to import an ASCII file are broken up into a logical set of wizard pages that you step through. ASCII data can even be imported via the Clipboard using the Import Wizard.
  • Additional Options -
    • Drag and Drop ASCII - Simple ASCII files can be imported into Origin by dragging and dropping them onto the Origin workspace. Origin's Import Wizard also allows you to define an Import Filter file for your custom ASCII format. Once defined, your custom file can then be imported into Origin using the drag and drop method.
    • File: Open ASCII - Simple ASCII files can be imported into Origin using Origin's File:Open dialog. As with Drag and Drop ASCII, custom ASCII data files can be imported using the File:Open dialog once an Import Filter file has been defined for your file type in the Import Wizard.

What sorts of options do I have with Origin's ASCII Import features?

  • IMPORT WIZARD (features unique to the import wizard)
    • Bring in data from a file or the clipboard
    • Import into a specified template (applies to drag-and-drop and File: Open)
    • Add sparklines to quickly review the profile of each dataset at the top of each worksheet column
    • Specify a custom date and time format to be applied to columns with date and/or time
    • Preset column formats
    • Preset column designations
    • Save import settings to a filter file that will then automatically be used with similar data
    • Specify options for drag and drop of similar data files into graph and worksheet
    • Enter LabTalk™ code to be executed after successful import
    • Add sparklines to quickly review the profile of each dataset at the top of each worksheet column
    • Specify the delimiter if free format or the number of characters if fixed format
    • Specify numeric separators
    • Specify number of columns
    • Auto determine column types option
    • Specify maximum and minimum number of consistent lines for determining data structure
    • Auto determine sub-header lines
    • Specify line number to start from for header lines
    • Specify line numbers from which to draw: long name, short name, units, comments (from and to), system parameters (from and to), user parameters (from and to)
    • Auto rename, rename sheet and/or with partial file name
    • Include file path when renaming book
    • Append filename to column/workbook comment
    • Include file path when appending filename
    • Specify column and row from and to
    • Skip data rows
    • Save ASCII Import options to a theme (not supported in Import Wizard)
    • Specify and remove text qualifiers (single or double quotes)
    • Remove leading zeros from numbers
    • Specify how to handle finding non-numeric data in a numeric field
    • Specify the destination for the imported file(s)

What Data Types does Origin support?

  • Text
  • Numeric
  • Text & Numeric
  • Date (including custom date formats)
  • Month
  • Day of Week
  • Time (includes support for the IRIG Time Format - for example: DDD:hh:mm:ss.#####)

1 Iowa State University Edward Tufte, Ph.D. 2006. Sparklines: Intense, Simple, Word-Sized Graphics. In: BEAUTIFUL EVIDENCE. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press LLC. p 47-63


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