Data sheets: some frequently-made errors and omissions

Concluding our series of articles on data sheets, I’d like to round up some of the things which people miss off, or which are frequently done badly. Some of the readers who had something to say here were quite forthright about where many data sheets go wrong!

For example, it’s important to get the fundamentals up top, and to use standard terminology. One correspondent wrote: “I’m a big fan of a ‘key details’ section being on the first page. There are a couple of specific technical criteria that almost every user of the datasheet needs; a great example is the operating voltage of an electronics chip. It’s great when that’s clearly visible at the very start, and I don’t need to go digging through tables to find Vcc (or Vdd, or Supply Voltage, or whatever they’ve chosen to call it so that I can’t CTRL+F it!)”

Other errors and omissions include:
– Missing dimensions;
– Missing data such as weight;
– Generalised images (“representative of range”);
– Poorly devised part number tables;
– Incorrectly defined or undefined data, e.g “accuracy” used instead of “error”, and whether that’s relative to measuring range or full scale;
– Hard to find or missing technical contact details;
– CAD drawings used straight from the software which haven’t reduced down clearly.

And that’s it for this series of articles on data sheets, but if you have anything you’d like to add, please use the comments section.

I’d like to thank and acknowledge the contributions of Adrian M, Adrian W, Alasdair H, Alec R, Andy P, Ben G, Charlie S, David A, David B, David G, David M, Doug R, Duncan M, James B, Jim H, Jo S, Jonathan K, Julian B, Karl R, Kerry O, Kevin G, Kevin P, Lynton B, Martin S, Matthew A, Mike K, Mike M, Mike W, Nick H, Ollie M, Paul D, Paul S, Peter M, Peter S, Sam S, Sijun M, Tim H, Wendy B, and Zafar J.

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