The cells in your spreadsheet should each contain one piece of data. Don’t put more than one thing in a cell.

For example, you might have a column with “plate position” as “plate-well”, such as “13-A01”. It would be better to separate this into “plate” and “well” (containing “13” and “A01”), or even “plate”, “well_row”, and “well_column” (containing “13”, “A”, and “1”).

Or you might be tempted to include units, such as “45 g”. Better to just write 45 and put the units in the column name, such as body_weight_g. Even better: leave the column as body_weight and put the units in a separate data dictionary.

Another common situation is to include a note within a cell, with the data, like “0 (below threshold)”. Instead, write “0” and include a separate column with notes.

Finally, don’t merge cells. It might look pretty, but you end up breaking the rule of no empty cells.

Next up: Make it a rectangle.

(Previous: Fill in all of the cells.)