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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

Spreadsheet Therapy

Principles of "data tidiness" to make spreadsheets easier to manage, use, and understand.

File and project architecture

Within files:

  • Lay out data similarly across tabs
  • Use consistent variable names within and across tabs
  • Use consistent practices for allowable inputs, date formats, and treatment of missing data
  • Save and export your data in non-proprietary formats, such as .csv, tab-delimited or .txt files
    • This helps preserve long-term access by avoiding reliance on a specific software provider

Among files:

  • Develop a consistent file naming convention for files within a project
  • Keep each project in its own folder; use the same file naming conventions within each folder
  • Consider developing a standard data layout and using it for all your projects
    • Blank data templates can help ensure consistency

Try to harmonize and promote consistent file naming and architecture practices with your collaborators