Abstract Simulations are playing an increasingly important role in paleobiology. When designing a simulation study, many decisions have to be made and common challenges will be encountered along the way. Here, we outline seven rules for executing a good simulation study. We cover topics including the choice of study question, the empirical data used as a basis for the study, statistical and methodological concerns, how to validate the study, and how to ensure it can be reproduced and extended by others. We hope that these rules and the accompanying examples will guide paleobiologists when using simulation tools to address fundamental questions about the evolution of life.