Imagine an example.xml file that contains some data.

Then there's a website where you can type or upload this data, so there are a few links such as "Manual Input" or "Upload from XML".

Which one of these options is the best, do they all seem valid to you?

  • "Upload from XML"
  • "Upload from list of values"
  • "Upload from CSV"
  • "Upload from comma-separated values" (aren't they both horribly wrong?)

And this looks valid to me:

  • "Upload XML"
  • "Uload list of values"

Unfortunately lots of pages uses "Upload from XML/CSV" so I'm a bit confused. It's basically "Upload from Extensible Markup Language", I might be wrong but it just feels awful.

  • english is my second language, so for "upload XML" mean to upload file itself and no action, "upload from XML" upload data from XML and to do something with data. Commented May 22, 2014 at 7:58

7 Answers 7


"Upload XML" is direct, to the point, and hard to misunderstand. It's also grammatical, if we understand the elided "file" (i.e., "Upload XML file").

"Upload CSV" is similarly non-grating.

"Upload XML/CSV" and "Upload XML or CSV" would be likewise fine, if the server is smart enough to handle both properly without being told which it is.

Spelling out XML or CSV, while (excruciatingly) correct, will confuse some (many?) people.

Edit: I'm not arguing that "from" is incorrect, just unnecessary, and not even helpful. And it's a very good rule to avoid any UI element that is not helpful.

  • 5
    Spelling out XML or CSV is not only wordy and confusing, but also completely unnecessary. If the user doesn't immediately recognize what an XML or CSV file is, then the odds of them actually supplying a valid XML or CSV file are vanishingly remote.
    – ghoppe
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 19:56
  • 1
    And how do you feel about "Upload from list of values" or "Upload from list of keywords" or "Upload from comma-separated values"? I've argued about "Upload from XML" vs "Upload from Extensible Markup Language", I feel like they're BOTH wrong or BOTH correct, am I right? My friend says the first one is correct while the last one - not.
    – Hugo
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 20:22
  • 2
    @Hugo Would it make sense to label a button "Activate the Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation Device"? No. People would be confused. "Power the Laser" would make sense. Would you also use "Upload a Joint Photographic Experts Group compressed image"? No. Your friend is right, the common phrase for an XML file is just that: an XML file.
    – ghoppe
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 22:18
  • @Hugo To be clear, the from is unnecessary. The payload is the file, you aren't taking anything away from it.
    – ghoppe
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 22:23
  • 2
    @Hugo Are you taking part of the list or the entire list? If you only upload part of the list, using the word from makes sense. Otherwise, it does not. Using the word from implies there is a second step where you select specific lines (records) from the file to upload. If this is the case, use from.
    – ghoppe
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 22:38

You are right that "Upload from (X)" where X is a file type is not quite correct. However, what would be correct, and is possibly what the original authors of the web page intended, is something similar to "Import from (X)."

In that case, since the word "import" implies some kind of data format conversion, the preposition "from" is appropriate.

  • 1
    This is the most appropriate phrasing for what "upload from $fileType" attempts to mean. Alternatively, as other answers suggest, "upload $fileType" would also be appropriate, but would take a completely different meaning. From a technical standpoint, "upload from $noun" would imply that $noun is a location from where a file is being uploaded, e.g. "upload from networked drive", "upload from TrueCrypt container".
    – Pockets
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 23:09

You might get a better answer on the UX site, but since this is ELU, I'll say that what matters is clarity. The person reading the phrase has to understand what you're trying to say.

In this case, I'd just say "Upload file" and let the software figure out what kind of file the user uploaded.

I certainly would not expand the acronyms, because they're being used here as file types. The users don't need to know (and probably don't know) what they stand for, and "list of values" does not have the same connotation as "CSV file."


Technically speaking, you are right, "Upload from XML" is incorrect. However, when the authors put "Upload from XML", they are referring to a file type. They are implying that you are uploading a .XML file. Rather than going the rather wordy route of "Upload from .XML file", the authors simply put "Upload from XML".

"Upload XML" implies that XML is the thing by itself that you are uploading, when rather it is just the way that your data is stored.

"Upload list of values" is too ambiguous. Instead of having the user possibly upload the wrong file type, the authors specifically say what file type to upload. To make a full circle, since the authors are talking about uploading data from different file types (and not the file types themselves), they would say something that conveys uploading data from a file, such as "Upload from XML".


I'd call this a jargon usage question, rather than an English usage question.

"Upload from X" means to transfer data from a location X. "Upload X" means to transfer the data X. XML and CSV are not locations.

I'd also suggest "upload a list of values" would be more idiomatically correct than "upload list of values".

However, it is not uncommon (a) for programmers to write the shortest description possible and trust that a user will understand what they meant, or (b) to write poorly. I'd say "upload from XML" is a clear instance of one or the other of these.


I would call the this process "extracting raw data from an XML file"


"Upload from XML" is actually valid. Sort of like "start from here"

A better question would be "what does 'Upload from XML' mean?" The phrase implies these facts:

  1. The action allows you to upload something
  2. The data has something to do with XML, which are either:
    • The XML is a file, the XML itself is capable of producing a package of data, which is subsequently uploaded.
    • The XML is a file, the XML itself is merely a container of a package of data, which is subsequently uploaded.
    • The XML is an application which is capable of uploading a package of data.
    • The XML is a location, from which the data will be uploaded.

The phrase does NOT mean that the XML itself will be uploaded.

Saying "Upload from eXtensible Markup Language" is also valid. It's merely a matter of the level of verbosity you're comfortable with, and the terms you know of. Pretty much everybody would understand "GIF", but some may not recognize it when you say "Graphics Interchange Format" instead.

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