MATLAB Answers


Why the headerlines are not always properly detected by readtable?

Asked by pietro
on 10 May 2018
Latest activity Edited by Walter Roberson
on 10 May 2018
Hi all,
I have many .csv files to import into Matlab. Those files are automatically exported from Scopus. With most of the downloaded files, I have no problem, but for some, like the one you can download from this link , the headers are totally wrong. Matlab skips the first line.
With other files like this , Matlab returns the following error:
Error using readtable (line 198)
Reading failed at line 3. All lines of a text file must have the same
number of delimiters. Line 3 has 1164 delimiters, while preceding
lines have 365.
Note: readtable detected the following parameters:
'Delimiter', ' ', 'HeaderLines', 1, 'ReadVariableNames', false,
Here the code I have used for both files:
How can I solve both problems?
Best regards,


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1 Answer

Answer by Guillaume
on 10 May 2018
Edited by Guillaume
on 10 May 2018
 Accepted Answer

There is actually a weird character at the start of the file. It is an UTF-8 BOM marker, EF BB BF. Unicode does not recommend using a UTF-8 BOM marker.
Note that regardless of the marker, matlab R2018a imports the file correctly. It slightly mangles the Authors header because of that BOM marker that it doesn't know how to interpret. The header becomes x__Authors. The rest is as it should be.
edit: As far as I know there is nothing you can do at the readtable level but you could always check the files beforehand and remove the BOM marker:
files = {....}; %list of files
folder = 'C:\somewhere';
for fileidx = 1:numel(files)
fid = fopen(fullfile(folder, files{fileidx}));
content = fread(fid);
if isequal(content(1:3), [239; 187; 191])
fid = fopen(fullfile(folder, files{fileidx}), 'w');
fwrite(fid, content(4:end));


Thanks a lot. That is weird matlab 2018a imports well the file, while the issues appears in 2017a release. What about the second file?
The problem with your second file is that matlab misdetect the delimiter. I've not stepped through the code to find out why but it's easily fixed:
t = readtable('testfile2.csv', 'Delimiter', ',')

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