From a Spreadsheet to a Database

Bahlai’s Law says, “Other people’s data is always inconsistent and in the wrong format.” This short example will show how to take such data — in this case, a bibliography embedded in a spreadsheet — and turn it into something usable. Along the way, we will use all of the tools introduced so far to extract, reformat, and analyze information that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to work with.


Learners should have completed introductory lessons on:

  • the Unix shell (head and tail, word count, sorting, and pipes)
  • Git (setting up a repository, committing files)
  • Python (libraries, loops, list indexing, string formatting)
  • SQL (creating tables, inserting data, joins)


  1. Introduction
  2. Extracting Data
  3. Storing Data in a Database

Other Resources