What Is a Tabular Data Presentation?

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A tabular data presentation is the clear organization of data into rows and columns to facilitate communication. Tables can clearly convey large amounts of information that would be cumbersome to write in paragraph form.

Creating a good table requires careful consideration to its design. Headings, dividers and appropriate variations of font sizes allow table designers to describe and organize information clearly. One way designers make tables easy to interpret is by arranging or grouping data for clarity. A table illustrating the prices of various vehicles may be arranged from low-priced economy cars to high-priced luxury cars. Tables that exclude irrelevant information are easier for people to read than those that include too much data. For instance, a table comparing the performance of two sports teams over the past three years would not include data from another team or data from six years ago.

In science, tables are quite useful when working with raw data. These tables may include much more data than is necessary to communicate specific information to others. Weather observations may be recorded once per hour in a raw table, but a smaller table showing just the highest and lowest temperature on a particular day is a clearer way to communicate weather data to a general audience. Regardless of the content, authors must consider whether textual, tabular or graphical formats represent the best way to share the information with others.