A table is both a mode of visual communication and a means of arranging data. The use of tables is pervasive throughout all communication, research and data analysis. Tables appear in print media, handwritten notes, computer software, architectural ornamentation, traffic signs and many other places. The precise conventions and terminology for describing tables varies depending on the context. Moreover, tables differ significantly in variety, structure, flexibility, notation, representation and use. In books and technical articles, tables are typically presented apart from the main text in numbered and captioned floating blocks.
The elements of a table may be grouped, segmented, or arranged in many different ways, and even nested recursively. Additionally, a table may include metadata, annotations, header, footer or other ancillary features.
NOTE: Multidimensional tables, 2-dimensional as in the example, are created under the condition the coordinates or combination of the basic headers (margins) give a unique value attached. This is a injective relation: each combination of the values of the headers row (row 0, for lack of a better term) and the headers column (column O for lack of a better term) is related to a unique value represented on the table:
-column 1 and row 1 will only correspond to the value 1 (and no other)
-column 1 and row 2 will only correspond to the value 2(and no other), etc
If the said condition is not present, it is required to insert extra columns or rows which increases the size of table with plenty of empty cells.
To illustrate how a simple table can be transformed into a multi-dimensional table, consider the following transformation of the Age table.
Modified Age Table (names only):
|Nancy||Nancy Davolio||Nancy Klondike||Nancy Obesanjo|
|Justin||Justin Saunders||Justin Timberland||Justin Daviolio|
For example, in the following diagram, two alternate representations of the same information are presented side by side. On the left is the NFPA 704 standard "fire diamond" with example values indicated and on the right is a simple table displaying the same values, along with additional information. Both representations convey essentially the same information, but the tabular representation is arguably more comprehensible to someone who is not familiar with the NFPA 704 standard. The tabular representation may not, however, be ideal for every circumstance (for example because of space limitations, or safety reasons).
|Standard representation||Tabular representation|
Such applications include: