Structuring spreadsheets for data

Love them or hate them, chances are you will have to use them and make friends with them if you want to achieve anything in the world of academic publishing.

As researchers, for office management or even in our everyday lives we see a lot of spreadsheets and work with a lot of data. We all have our own personal preferences for design and layout of spreadsheets and how we record the information, but when it comes to analysing the data, and especially when someone else needs to use your sheets, your best laid plans can fall apart, rapidly, with great frustration.

Help is at hand from The American Statistician journal, which has just published a special issue on data science.

In their paper titled Data Organisation in Spreadsheets, Karl Broman and Kara Woo offer 13 tips on optimal spreadsheet creation, including how to structure a sheet, use naming conventions, how to (and how not to) format data. They also explain why no cell should be left blank, and why you should not be afraid of adding more columns.

A lot of excellent advice in this paper!

Karl W. Broman & Kara H. Woo (2018) Data Organization in Spreadsheets, The American Statistician, 72:1, 2-10, DOI: 10.1080/00031305.2017.1375989