Data formatting

In most cases, we expect the data format to be provided as tabular datasets stored in Excel spreadsheets. This accounts for the vast majority of the data files used by researchers. We do support other data files but those files will need to be documented using the same Excel format.


The formatting details described in this documentation will be used to automatically publish your data to Zenodo. You should choose titles, descriptions and keywords that you would be happy to be permanently associated with your dataset!

Excel format overview

The basic format for a SAFE dataset submission is an Excel Workbook, which will typically contain at least four worksheets. The first three worksheets must use the standard names listed below.

  • Summary: This contains some simple information about the authors of the dataset, access rights and the individual data tables in the dataset.
  • Taxa: This describes all the taxa used in the dataset.
  • Locations: This describes all the sampling locations used in the dataset.
  • Data worksheets: After these worksheets come your data tables. You should label these sheets with a sensible name (not 'Sheet1'!) and each data table must be described in the Summary worksheet. You can include as many data tables as you like in a single dataset: we don't want you to spend time rearranging your data and are happy just to take the data in the natural tables you already use.

File naming

Use a simple short name for your spreadsheet - there will be a lot of information giving more detail inside. Please do not use spaces in your file name - you can use underscores to separate words.

Spreadsheet Template and Examples

Click on this link to download the spreadsheet template containing the required worksheets, labels and headers.

You can also look at existing published datasets to see how the format is used: