Variable, dimension and attribute names should begin with a letter and be composed of letters, digits, and underscores. Note that this is in conformance with the COARDS conventions, but is more restrictive than the netCDF interface which allows use of the hyphen character. The netCDF interface also allows leading underscores in names, but the NUG states that this is reserved for system use.
Case is significant in netCDF names, but it is recommended that names should not be distinguished purely by case, i.e., if case is disregarded, no two names should be the same. It is also recommended that names should be obviously meaningful, if possible, as this renders the file more effectively self-describing.
This convention does not standardize any variable
or dimension names. Attribute names and their
contents, where standardized, are given in
English in this document and should appear in
English in conforming netCDF files for the sake
of portability. Languages other than English
are permitted for variables, dimensions, and
non-standardized attributes. The content of some
standardized attributes are string values that
are not standardized, and thus are not required
to be in English. For example, a description
of what a variable represents may be given
in a non-English language using the
(see Section 3.2, “Long Name”)
whose contents are not standardized, but a description given by
(see Section 3.3, “Standard Name”)
must be taken from the standard name table which
is in English.