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Tabular Display of Data. Prepared by: Gary Klass Data Presentation Standards “Graphical Excellence” -- Edward Tufte. well-designed presentation of data of substance, statistics and design complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency

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Tabular Display of Data

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tabular display of data

Tabular Display of Data

Prepared by:


data presentation standards graphical excellence edward tufte
Data Presentation Standards“Graphical Excellence” -- Edward Tufte
  • well-designed presentation of data of substance, statistics and design
  • complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency
  • the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.Best example: Baseball statistics
meaningful data
Meaningful Data
  • Count
  • Divide
  • Compare
meaningful data contd
Meaningful Data (contd.)
  • Use rates, ratios and per capita measures rather than aggregate totals.
  • Two time points are better than one.
    • Show change over a meaningful time period. (5 year change rather than annual change).
    • Multi-year trends are best presented in time series charts rather than tables.
  • Show the source of the data
draw conclusions from meaningful comparisons
Draw Conclusions from Meaningful Comparisons
  • One year changes in crime rates are not very meaningful
  • Rates (and averages) tell more than counts(crimes rates, not crime counts)
unambiguous data
Unambiguous Data
  • Each number in a table should have a precise meaning.
    • Use titles, headings, and notes to clearly define the data.
  • Be precise when using rates and ratios
    • Clearly define the numerator and denominator of the measures
  • Be clear about percent change, net percentage change.
    • Abortion rate vs. Abortion ratio
    • % of poor vs. the % that are poor
    • Net change vs. % percentage change
unambiguous data14
Unambiguous Data

Change in Teenage Birth Rates: 1987-1998

White 6.7% Black -4.9 Asian -1.8 Hispanic 3.7

Source: Statistical Abstract 2000, table 85


Data can be quickly interpreted by the reader.

  • Sort data on the most meaningful variable
  • Time always left to right
  • Similar data goes down the columns
  • Highlight important comparisons
  • Don’t force comparisons between two different tables
  • Consistent formatting across tables
excel skills
Excel skills
  • Combine cells for title, use word wrap
  • Adjust cell widths
  • Sort data
  • Use formulas and copy formulas
  • Do not use too many fonts
  • Decimal places: 2 significant digits
  • Horizontal borders
  • Copy image to Word