I'm developing a web application that presents a large amount of data in a grid. One of the features we are adding to this application is the ability to view this data in Excel. My coworker and I were surprised to find that we don't agree on what to call this feature.

I'd like to call this feature Export, because I am taking data out of the web application.

My coworker would like to call this feature Import, because he is taking data from a remote source (the website) and bringing the data to his computer (think "importing a foreign car").

Which verbiage is more clear?

Or is there a different set of words we should be using, like "Download" or "Save" or "View in Excel"?

2 Answers 2


The frame of reference should be the user. So when you're bringing data into the app you're currently using, it's Importing. When you move data out of the app you're using, it should be Exporting.

If I understand your situation, I'd call it Export since I'm sending data out of the app.

Of course, you could change the verbiage for clarity. "View in Excel" or something like that.

  • 1
    Keep it simple, "View in Excel" (if file will automatically open) or "Export to Excel" (if a file will download for a user to open). All depends on what the CTA actually does.
    – Igorek
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 22:31

I would definitively call it Export.

From a user perspective, the website is at a remote place, but who will execute the action of migrating the data is the server that will prepare a package and send it to the user. Since its the server that executes the action, it'll export the data and not import.

Using your analogy of a foreign car, if you contact a sales man from another country, you would say something like:

I'd like to buy this fancy car. Could you please start the exportation process and deliver it to my home?

If you say: I'll import this car. It means that you will handle this process.

In your case, the user can import the data to Excel, but the action executed by clicking in the button will not automatically import the data. The user needs additional steps to complete the importation (ensure that Excel is installed, that it is working, click to open the file choosing Excel to handle it, convert the data if necessary, etc.)

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