What is non-numerical data?


Quick Answer

Non-numerical data is data which is observed, not measured. Non-numerical data deals with descriptions like the smell of a cookie, the feel of bed linens and the type of brush stokes on a painting.

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Full Answer

Data are individual facts, statistics or items of information, and numerical data is measured or counted. An example is the weight of luggage loaded onto an airplane. Counting the number of times a ball dropped from a rooftop bounces before it comes to rest comprises numerical data.

On the other hand, non-numerical data, also called categorical, qualitative or Yes/No data, is data that can be observed, not measured. Non-numerical data represents characteristics such as a person’s gender, marital status, hometown, ethnicity or the types of movies people like. An example is non-numerical data representing the colors of flowers in a yard: yellow, blue, white, red, etc.

If recording non-numerical data about a freshman class, an individual might record that they are friendly, civic-minded, environment-conscious and have a positive school spirit. Numerical data can also be recorded about that class, namely, that it has 672 students, 394 girls and 278 boys; 68 percent of them are on the honor roll and 150 students are accelerated in mathematics. Thus, the type of data collected is determined by the type of study conducted. Bar graphs and pie charts are used to display results containing non-numerical data.

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