How to present data effectively in tables

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A simple tutorial on how to present data in tables. By Tezira Lore. 14 April 2014.

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How to present data effectively in tables

  1. 1. How to present data effectively in tables Tezira Lore Communications specialist April 2014 This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
  2. 2. Introduction • Scientific papers often present data in tables. • A good table should be able to stand alone and convey the key points without the need to consult the text. • These slides will guide you on how to format and present your tables so as to effectively communicate your tabulated data.
  3. 3. Basic layout of a table • A table contains no vertical lines. • Three horizontal lines run the full width of the table: – Beneath the table caption and any headnotes – Beneath the headings for the stub and the field – Below the field and before any footnotes • Other horizontal lines (straddle lines) run across all the columns of items to which the heading above the straddle line refers.
  4. 4. Basic layout of a table Table No. Table caption Main box heading (identify items in field)a Secondary head No. 1b Secondary head No. 2 Stub Head Tertiary No. 1 Tertiary No. 2 Stub #1c Field item No. 1 Field item No. 2 Field item No. 3d Stub #2 Field item No. 4 … … … … … … a,b,c,d Footnotes in order from top to bottom and horizontally. Source: Davis (2005)
  5. 5. Box and stub headings • Box headings – identify items in columns – should define the meaning of items in the field (e.g. yields, percentages etc.) – should include units of measure • Stub heading identifies the independent variables for items in horizontal rows Use as few headings as possible Make headings brief and substantive Try not to go beyond secondary heads if possible
  6. 6. Numbers and abbreviations • Give only significant figures • Align decimals in columns • Omit columns with – a string of zeros – a string of 100s (when percentages are used) – the same result repeated • Explain non-standard abbreviations in the footnote
  7. 7. Step 1: Under Table Tools, click the Layout tab. Remove borders from the whole table Step 2: In the Table group, click Select, and then click Select Table. Step 3: Under Table Tools, click the Design tab. Step 4: In the Table Styles group, click Borders, and then click No Border.
  8. 8. Add borders to specified cells Step 1: Select the cells that you want. Step 2: Under Table Tools, click the Design tab. Step 3: In the Table Styles group, click Borders. Step 4: Click the border(s) that you want to add.
  9. 9. Remove borders from specified cells Step 1: Select the cells that you want. Step 2: Under Table Tools, click the Design tab. Step 3: In the Table Styles group, click Borders Step 4: Click No Border.
  10. 10. Merge cells Merge several cells horizontally to create a box heading that spans several columns. Step 1: Select the cells that you want to merge. Step 2: Under Table Tools, on the Layout tab, in the Merge group, click Merge Cells.
  11. 11. Example of a well-presented table Jost C, Nzietchueng S, Kihu S, Bett B, Njogu G, Swai ES and Mariner JC. 2010. Epidemiological assessment of the Rift Valley fever outbreak in Kenya and Tanzania in 2006 and 2007. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 83(2 Suppl): 65-72.
  12. 12. Points to note • A table should be simple, clear and well organized. • Use tables only when needed. • If you can describe the data briefly in the text, do not present them in a table. • Avoid information overload.
  13. 13. Bibliography • CBE Style Manual Committee. 1983. CBE style manual: a guide for authors, editors and publishers in the biological sciences. 5th edition. Council of Biology Editors, Inc., Chicago, IL. • Davis M. 2005. Scientific papers and presentations. 2nd edition. Elsevier Inc., San Diego. • Day RA. 1983. How to write and publish a scientific paper. 2nd edition. ISI Press, Philadelphia, PA.

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