4.2.1 Data Dictionary Blank Template

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This blank template can be used to manually create a data dictionary. Use one row for each data element, and do not leave rows, columns, or cells blank. Add rows and columns as necessary, and enter na if nothing applies. The Data Flag Code and Data Flag Meaning columns are optional. See below for an explanation of column headers. 

Data dictionary image

Data dictionary image


Use the following link to access a blank template in MS Excel. This template contains a second page with the descriptions for each field. NOTE when you save this file as a csv it will only save the first page which should be your complete data dictionary

CanWIN MS Excel Blank Data Dictionary Template

This template is the CSV version of the Data Dictionary Template so contains no description fields.

CanWIN CSV Blank Data Dictionary Template

Explanation of column headers:

  • Spreadsheet tab : If your spreadsheet has multiple tabs, identify the tab you are describing.
  • Element or value display name : What is the name used in your data file?
  • Description : Write a brief definition, stated in the singular, that could stand alone from other element definitions.
  • Data type : For example, indicate varchar, integer, date, etc.
  • Character length : For example, the maximum length for Excel is 255, so indicate 255 or less.
  • Acceptable values : List all acceptable values, separated by pipes ( | ). This may be a field name or a range of values.
  • Required? : Enter y/n to indicate whether this field is required.
  • Null value : The value used if no data was collected.
    • A note on null values: Null is the absence of a recorded value for a field. A null value differs from a value of zero in that zero may represent the measure of an attribute, while a null value indicates that no measurement has been taken.
  • Data Flag Code: Optional.  If you have other descriptors for your data (e.g. lab has code for sample destroyed in lab) you can add it here.
  • Data Flag Meaning: Optional. Meaning of data flag code
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