Writing a COL file for a tabular text file

Specifying the delimiter of a column

If the tabular text file uses a delimiter character to separate columns of data, you must use the UNTIL keyword to specify the delimiter as part of each field definition.

For example, if the source data is delimited by commas, as in:

"Smith", "Robert", "Gryphon Real Estate", "555-1212"

and the view contains the following field names:

LastName, FirstName, Company, Phone

then the COL file will contain the following lines:

LastName: UNTIL ",";
FirstName: UNTIL ",";
Company: UNTIL ",";
Phone: UNTIL "";

If there is no delimiter at the end of the record (row), you identify the end of the last field as a null ("").

Specifying the start, end, and width of a fixed-width column

If the tabular text file contains fixed-width columns of data, you use the START keyword along with either the END or WIDTH keyword to define each field.

For example, if the source data contains a LastName field that is 12 characters wide and the view contains a field named LastName, the COL file must contain the following column definition:

LastName: START 01 END 13


LastName: Start 01 WIDTH 12

The first column position is always 01, not 0.

The following lines of a COL file give two sets of instructions:

LastName: START 1 WIDTH 12
FirstName: TYPE TEXT START 13 END 20

The first line puts the contents of the first field, LastName, at position 1 and allows 12 characters for it. The second line specifies that the data type of the FirstName field is text, begins the contents of the field at position 13, and allows 8 characters for it.

Specifying the header, footer, and lines per page

The HEADER, FOOTER, and LINESPERPAGE keywords tell Notes® to ignore headers and footers during importing. The number of lines in the imported document are calculated as:

LinesPerPage - (HeaderLines + FooterLines)

For example, the following line of a COL file tells Notes to ignore 4 heading lines and 1 footer line and sets the maximum number of lines per page to 66:


The keywords may appear together or alone on a line in the file. These settings in a COL file override values in the Tabular Text Import dialog box.