I don’t have much experience with data entry. (Well, there was that one time, but it hardly counts.) And so I can’t give much advice about how best to ensure that the process is as error-free and repetitive-stress-injury-free as possible.

But one thing that seems potentially useful is the “data validation” feature in Excel, to control the type of data or the values that users can enter into a cell.

  • Select a column
  • In the menu bar, choose Data → Validation
  • Choose appropriate validation criteria. For example:
    • A whole number in some range
    • A decimal number in some range
    • A list of possible values
    • Text, but with a limit on length

At the same time, you could select particular data types for the column, such as text, to avoid having dates (or transcription factor names!) get mangled by Excel. I mentioned this before in the discussion of dates, but it’s worth repeating:

  • Select the column
  • In the menu bar, select Format → Cells
  • Choose “Text” on the left

All this may seem cumbersome, but if it helps you to avoid data entry mistakes, it could be worth it.

Next up: Save the data in a plain text format.

(Previous: Make backups.)