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Data File Instructions

GFZ Data Services has no special data format requirements for submissions. However, for data preservation and publication, it is essential that all datasets are saved in an appropriate file format to ensure long-term accessibility of data. If you are not directly using these formats, please convert your data to formats that are:

  • widely used within your discipline (e.g. RINEX, mSeed)
  • open and non-proprietary (e.g. csv, txt, netCDF)
  • publicly documented, i.e. the complete file specification is publicly available
  • self-documenting, i.e. the file itself can include useful metadata. Please consider also here the use of standards as, e.g. NetCDF_cf
  • endorsed by standards agencies such as the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO)


Specific Recommendatations for GFZ Data Services

Geographic coordinates

  • Please use decimal degrees (DD.dddd) where southern latitudes and western longitudes have negative values.

Persistent identifiers for samples

Date and time

  • Please always define the date and time formats and their notation in the data headers and/ or description.
  • Please use yyyy (for year) or yyyy-mm-dd (Year-month-date) or any other format described in W3CDTF.


  • Please use SI units for your measurement variables.
  • Define units in data description.
  • Include units in table column labels.

Data formats

  • Please use non-proprietary and persistent file formats (e.g. txt, csv, geoTIFF, netCDF) whenever possible.
  • Please submit tabular data as TAB delimited text files (ASCII). In addition to ASCII files, you may submit tabular data in Excel-format or PDF/ PDF/A if these formats provide for special formatting or functionality that would otherwise be lost.
  • Please note: Information in the headline of Excel tables are lost after the conversion csv or tab-delimited txt formats. To avoid this, please include the headline information directly in the data table.


  • Whenever possible, data files published with GFZ Data Services will contain a metaheader at the beginning of the file marked by “#”. It will contain the title and author information, license and citation. 


  • Please use descriptive file names wherever possible.
  • Define all abbreviations in the data description.
  • Use a period (“.”) as decimal delimiter.
  • For comprehensive technical description of your data, please use our Data Description Templates. They are available in commented and “ready-to-use” versions.
  • Group tables with identical format, if necessary add a column to describe e.g. treatment, group, etc.
  • Please define empty fields in tables. For example, an empty field may indicate a measurement was not made or the measurement fell below the detection limit. Please always define the abbreviations you are using.
  • Avoid including summary statistics in data files.
  • Use English.


More about data format recommendations can be found at: