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Tables, Graphs & Figures. Creating a Table. Tables should be arranged so that all the data for a given sample can be read from left to right. A table heading, or caption, must: - have a brief description of what the table shows - explain what is in the table (this may detail how the

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## Tables, Graphs & Figures

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**Creating a Table**Tables should be arranged so that all the data for a given sample can be read from left to right. A table heading, or caption, must: - have a brief description of what the table shows - explain what is in the table (this may detail how the particular samples were manipulated) - summarize the basic trend - be a self-contained explanation Tables should be clean and logical. Avoid repeating words across the columns or down the rows - subheadings can provide that information.**“Plantago major was found at three out of the five vacant**lots sampled (Table 2).” (description of table in results section)**“The seeds neither imbibed water nor germinated following**any of the treatments (Table 3).” (description of table in results section)**Figures in Biology**• In general there are two types: -histograms -scatterplots (point graphs) • Other types of graphs are less common for biology papers • Each axis must be clearly labeled and units must be noted • Have enough tick marks on both axes at intervals frequent enough that the reader can estimate the value of each data point. • The meaning of any symbols must be clearly indicated (may be in the legend below)**Figure Caption**• A figure caption must always accompany a graph • It explains what is in the graph (this may detail how the particular samples were manipulated) • It summarizes the basic trend • It should be self-contained**A Good Caption**From the figure caption, the axis labels, and the graph itself, the reader should be able to: 1) determine the question being asked, 2) get a good idea of how the study was done, and 3) be able to interpret the figure without going back to the text.**General Points**• If you have more than one graph, keep styles consistent. The symbols should be the same, etc. • If a simple sentence will convey the meaning of the data and no graph is needed, don't use a graph. Use tables and graphs only if they make your data work for you. If a table or graph fails to help summarize a trend, leave it out.**For Scatterplots**• By convention, the independent variable is plotted on the x-axis, and the dependent variable is plotted on the y-axis. • The axes of the graphs should begin with the number 0. If there's a large break, indicate this with //. • Connect the dots when there is a linear relationship (if there isn't a linear relationship, you should probably be using a histogram). When there is clearly a direct relationship draw a smooth curve. • Use error bars to indicate SE/SD about the mean: • SE standard error – Standard deviation divided by square root of n (sample size) • SD – standard deviation**For Histograms**• Used when the relationships between samples is nonlinear (e.g., the variable is nominal or ordinal) • You should insert error bars and ranges (where ranges are far from SE/SD) • Do not overembellish (e.g., 3-D, shadowing, and superfluous color)**Other Kinds of Figures**Some may be appropriate for Biology**Figure 3. Mean coefficient of conservatism (c bar) is**compared for belt transects in remnant and restored prairies. The red dot indicates the mean value for each plot.**A graphical representation of losses of soldiers during**Napoleon’s Russian campaign.**Fig. 2. A commercial restoration plantation in northeastern**Costa Rica. In the foreground are planted individuals of Acacia mangium, a fast-growing tree species native to Asia and Australia, which tolerates poor soils. A fast-growing native species, Vochysia guatemalensis is also planted here among the A. mangium trees. In the background is a fragment of 25-year-old secondary forest. Euterpe oleracea, an exotic palm species from Brazil that was cultivated in a nearby plantation has colonized the restoration site (upper right quadrant) and is now invading secondary forests in this area. [Photograph by R. L. Chazdon]

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