Data Management Skillbuilding Hub

Best Practice: Use appropriate field delimiters

BEST PRACTICE

Best Practices by Data Life Cycle




Use appropriate field delimiters

Data Life Cycle stage(s): Collect   Describe

Delimit the columns within a data table using commas or tabs; these are listed in order of preference. Semicolons are used in many systems as line end delimiters and may cause problems if data are imported into those systems (e.g. SAS, PHP scripts). Avoid delimiters that also occur in the data fields. If this cannot be avoided, enclose data fields that also contain a delimiter in single or double quotes.

An example of a consistently delimited data file with a header row:

Date, Avg Temperature, Precipitation
01Jan2010, 32.3, 0.0
02Jan2010, 34.1, 0.5
03Jan2010, 31.4, 2.5
04Jan2010, 33.2, 0.0

Description Rationale

Consistent use of preferred field delimiters (e.g., comma separated variables) enables data tables to be easily incorporated into analytical and other software programs and ensures that the data content and structure are preserved.

Additional Information

Best Practices for Preparing Environmental Data Sets to Share and Archive, (formerly Cook et al., 2001) Updated by L. A. Hook, T. W. Beaty, S. Santhana-Vannan, L. Baskaran, and R. B. Cook. June 2007. http://daac.ornl.gov/PI/bestprac.html

Tags

 
 
 

Cite this best practice:

DataONE Best Practices Working Group, DataONE  (September 01, 2011) "Best Practice: Use appropriate field delimiters". Accessed through the Data Management Skillbuilding Hub at https://dataoneorg.github.io/Education/bestpractices/use-appropriate-field on Aug 22, 2019


Home

Hosted by DataONE

In collaboration with the community, DataONE has developed high quality resources for helping educators and librarians with training in data management, including teaching materials, webinars and a database of best-practices to improve methods for data sharing and management.

Question If you have a question or concern, please open an Issue in this repository on GitHub.