As the question states, I'm trying to import a .csv file but I would like to exclude certain rows (points which I know are bad data).

This is easy when the points are at the end I simply use something like:

  Data = Import["\\\\MyLocation\\MyFolder\\Myfile.csv"][[Range[N],{1,2}]];

Where Range[N] is where I want to stop importing and {1,2} are the columns I want. However I am unsure how to exclude points which are in the middle of the data set.

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In fact Import has nothing to do with your approch, as you Import the whole file and then take a Part of it... take a look at Part,Span and Drop which will come in very handy for such tasks. $\endgroup$
    – Yves Klett
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 11:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You should avoid using capitalized variables because they might conflict with built-ins, such as N,E,D,.... N - which you used - is already defined. $\endgroup$
    – Lukas
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I do try to! It is a habbit from more conventional coding where I use Camel-Casing (e.g. MyVariableName) $\endgroup$
    – user27119
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a way to escape reserved characters for use in such names? $\endgroup$
    – user27119
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ Just start with lowercase letters, e.g. myVariableName, myFun[x]:=.... For one letters variables, just use the uncapitalized version. $\endgroup$
    – Lukas
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:47

2 Answers 2


As mentioned in the comments to your question, you just Import the whole data and then manipulate it afterwards. This is (I believe) a very transparent way to achieve the end result that you want and also illustrates why you should not use an "advanced" Import:

Let's produce some sample data

dim = 100;
data = RandomReal[{-1, 1}, {dim, 3}];
Export[NotebookDirectory[] <> "dummy.dat", data, "Table"];

of which we want to exclude certain rows:

exclude = RandomInteger[{1, dim}, 8];
wanted = DeleteCases[Range[dim], Alternatives @@ exclude];

Of course, if you do just Import your data, say into the variable import, then dim=First@Dimensions@import. Now let's compare the two approaches:

Import everything and manipulate afterwards:

  data = Import[NotebookDirectory[] <> "dummy.dat", "Table"];
  correctedData = data[[wanted]];]
(* 0.023810 *)

Import only the wanted rows:

First@AbsoluteTiming[correctedImport = Import[NotebookDirectory[] <> "dummy.dat", {"Data", wanted}];]
(* 0.050041 *)

Note that the latter uses the built-in functionality of Import

Import["file",elements]: imports the specified elements from a file.

Now, we verify that both are the same:

correctedData == correctedImport
(* True *)

So, concluding, it is probably only useful to import specified elements if you would run into memory issues otherwise. If there are no limitations due to ressources, importing everything and manipulating afterwards is faster.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much Lukas! The explanation was also very helpful! $\endgroup$
    – user27119
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:31

What follows is a variation on a previous answer

To exclude row 4 from comma-delimited data:

dataGood = Flatten[#, 1] & @(Import["/path/to/myfile.txt",{"Data", #, {All}}]
  & /@ {Range[3], Range[5, 6]});


dataGood // TableForm

Good Data - point excluded

For comparison:

dataAll = Import["/path/to/myfile.txt", {"Data", {All}, {All}}];
dataAll // TableForm

All data points with no exclusions

  • $\begingroup$ I have just updated my answer. It should be mentioned that timings of this selective approach are pretty bad compared to just importing everything and manipulating afterwards. $\endgroup$
    – Lukas
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Lukas. The OP specifically asks to exclude data which are known to be bad. By excluding a row or rows, you may be excluding MB of data. $\endgroup$
    – user1066
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ Hi TomD, thanks for answering, I like the simplicity of this solution. It also builds/extends upon what I already know. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – user27119
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ @TomD That is of course true. However, unless one works with data files on the order of a few GB, I do not believe there is any advantage to preselect rows (just because it appears to be way slower). But you're right that this is for sure important, if operating at the limits of one's ressources. $\endgroup$
    – Lukas
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:36

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