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Problem importing grades

I'm trying to import grades from an Excel spreadsheet to Canvas via a CSV file, but it's not working out well.

I managed to do this successfully - once - by entering some scores manually into Canvas, downloading them as a CSV file, editing that file with a new set of scores, and uploading it. However, I had to copy the scores from my Excel spreadsheet to the CSV file in bits and pieces, rather than all at once, because the spreadsheet and the CSV that I downloaded from Canvas didn't have the exact same students in the exact same order. There were two reasons for the differences: (1) I've made some drops lately that aren't reflected in Canvas yet, and (2) Canvas and Excel don't alphabetize names quite the same way when there are people with two surnames

Copying the scores in bits and pieces to compensate for the names being in a different order - and checking to make sure I hadn't messed up - took quite a while. So for my second import attempt, I tried creating the CSV with the same students in the same order as in my Excel spreadsheet, so that I could copy and paste their scores in a single step. Naturally, that didn't work: Canvas says "Invalid CSV files. Grades could not be updated."

So before I invest more time experimenting with this, can anyone tell me if there's any leeway at all regarding the list of student names in the CSV file? (By the way, this wasn't an issue at all in Etudes, but maybe I just got spoiled.)

Thanks in advance for your help!

37 Replies

I finally found the reason why I couldn't upload the grades. I was adding a few fake students, and they were all in pending state. Once I activated those accounts, everything started working like a charm. Thank you Kona Jones and James Riley for you help and participation. 



Learner II

I have noticed in the last couple days that if you download a grade spreadsheet, then immediately try to upload it, you get a "bad file format" error. When I open the file in Excel and choose "Save as...", it shows me that the file's current type is Unicode .txt. If I change it to .csv, it uploads fine.

Has something changed with the format of dowloaded grade spreadsheets?

Community Member

Yes, I also did the same thing. Thank you for the reply.

Community Member

I added this idea for the future development. I would appreciate it if you could upvote it, so it grabs the Canvas team's attention. This is something we really need: 

Community Member

I've never had this issue before until today.  Seeing that this year-old post has activity today from 4 more posts makes me think something is going on, right?  I've used this technique for several semesters - I create the assignment, go to my gradebook where I export to a CSV file.  I open it with Excel, copy/paste over my scores from my spreadsheet into the assignment's column, save-as (keeping the CSV format), then in Canvas import the file.  Never had an issue until today.  Now I get the "Invalid CSV file" error message.

Please advise.  Thanks!

I did a chat with William - he had me upload my CSV file so he could see it.  He noticed some extra characters in the column heading for "Student" - I didn't add those characters, so I'm guessing some sort of artifact from the download.  Nonetheless, once I removed those characters, the upload worked fine. 

So, if you're having issues, check your column headings.

Woo hoo!

Glad this is working for you now, Anthony!


Community Member

I keep getting the following error when I try to upload my CVS file: Invalid CSV file. Grades could not be updated.

I downloaded the gradebook, added the grades to the CVS file (I have already created the assignment column in Canvas before download the gradebook), but it just does not work. I have tried to follow the guideline that Emily linked to, but it did not solve the problem. 

Can anyone support? 


Hi Mads - I dunno if you saw my posts about this issue above, but I found that when I downloaded my gradebook as a .CSV file, it put some extra characters in my "Student" column.  It still does every time I download, and if I try to upload this file back into Canvas, I get the same message you describe.   So, I have to manually remove those characters from the column heading before saving the file.  Then my import works fine.

Here's a screenshot:  Extra characters

I hope your issue is something as simple.



After you download (export) the gradebook, open it, and then paste the grades in the blank column, do not click "Save" after you add/paste the grades to the csv file. 

Instead click "Save as..", choose CSV format from the drop down options, and then overwrite the original file.  If you do the import, it should work now.