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Updated May 2, 2018

General format requirements:

  • Use ".csv" as the file extension
  • Preferred: File names in snake case i.e. lowercase with underscores: "example_file_name.csv"
  • Single header row with descriptive column names
  • Include one column that can be used as the unique identifier. The data type of that column can be either text or number.
  • Do not include URLs in the data file.
  • Columns delimited by commas
  • No empty lines or rows
  • Each row should have the same number of columns.

For spatial files:

  • Latitude and longitude in separate columns with names: "latitude" and "longitude"
  • Latitude and longitude in decimal degrees
  • If a data file is not in WGS84 (EPSG:4326) CRS, use CoordX and CoordY as the column names
  • If coordinates are not in WGS84 (EPSG:4326) CRS, an optional *.prj file (same as the Shapefile format) can be used to explicitly specify the CRS.

Data content and formatting:

  • Column names in snake case. i.e. lowercase with underscores: "example_column_name" not spaces
  • Missing data for numeric columns = -9999 or additional decimal 9’s to an appropriate level of precision
  • Missing data for text columns = "NA"
  • If a text field includes commas and quotes, save the file with the option of placing quotes around all text fields.
  • Dates and times in 24 hour UTC. No local time zones unless UTC is also provided.
  • Dates in YYYY-MM-DD format
  • Times in hh:mm:ss (or hh:mm:ss+nn if time zone needs to be included) format
  • Named sites and locations should have an associated geographic location
  • Text and numeric data should not be mixed in the same column
    (see Best Practices for Data Management).

This is an example of mixed text and numeric data:

estimated_depth shrub_cover
4 30
6 > 75
4 to 5 25
5 65