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Tabulation of Data – Meaning | Parts of Table | Objectives | Advantages


One of the simplest ways to summarize data is to present it in tabular form. A table is a systematic arrangement of statistical data in rows and columns. The clear-cut and systematic arrangement allows the reader to quickly locate the desired information. It also makes the data easier to grasp at a glance.

Tabular Presentation of Data – Definition

The systematic presentation of the data’s information in rows and columns in accordance with some salient qualities or attributes is referred to as tabulation. Columns are arranged vertically, whereas rows are arranged horizontally. A statistical table is a logical arrangement of related numerical data in vertical columns and horizontal rows, with sufficient qualifiers and explanations in the form of titles, headings, and notes to explain the entire significance of the data and its source. The process of tabulating data is the step between accumulating data in raw form and obtaining the final conclusion by the use of statistical methods.

Objectives of Data Tabulation:

  1. To simplify the complex data: Tabulation presents the data set in a systematic and concise form avoiding unnecessary details. The idea is to reduce the bulk of information (data) under investigation into a simplified and meaningful form.
  2. To economize space: By condensing data into a meaningful form, space is saved without sacrificing the quality and quantity of data.
  3. To depict trend: Data condensed in the form of a table reveal the trend or pattern of data which otherwise cannot be understood in a descriptive form of presentation.
  4. To facilitate comparisons: Data presented in a tabular form, having rows and columns, facilitate quick comparisons among its observations.
  5. To make statistical comparisons easier: Tabulation is the process that comes before data’s presentation. To analyze data and then interpret the findings, a variety of statistical approaches can be used, including measures of average and dispersion, correlation and regression, time series, and so forth.
  6.  As a reference: When data are organized in tables in a proper way, they can be quickly identified and utilized as a guide for upcoming requirements.

Parts of a Table:

The seven main parts of a table are:

  1. Table number
  2. Title
  3. Head notes or Prefatory notes
  4. Captions and Stubs
  5. Body of the table
  6. Foot-note
  7. Source note
  1. Table Number: If a book, article, or report includes multiple tables, each table should be given a number in a logical order for appropriate identification and quick and easy future reference. The table number can be positioned either in the center above the title or to one side of the title at the top of the table.
  2. Title: A proper title must be assigned to each table. This title typically appears at the top of the table. A title should be self-explanatory and serve to briefly and concisely summarize the contents of the table. It must specifically state the type of data, the location, the time, and the data’s source. The title should be succinct but not vague. For the sake of clarity, using lengthy titles is occasionally desirable. In this case, the “primary title” may be followed by a “catch title.” The title of the table should have the boldest lettering of all its components.
  3. Head Notes (or Prefatory Notes): If more information is required on the contents of the table, a head note is provided directly below the title in a large font that is often centered and enclosed in brackets. It serves as an addition to the title and gives information about the entire table or some of its key components, like the captions or stubs. As an example, measuring units are frequently stated in the head, such as “in hectares,” “in millions,” etc.
  4. Captions and Stubs: Stubs and captions are the titles or labels for horizontal rows and vertical columns, respectively. They ought to be succinct, clear, and self-explanatory. To save space, captions are typically printed in small letters in the middle of the columns. If the same unit is used across the entire table, the title and it may be included as a head note.  If the elements in several columns or rows are measured or represented in various units, the correct units should be mentioned in the columns or rows. For instance, the columns can represent the population (in millions) of various nations whereas the rows might represent various time periods (years).
  5. Body of the Table: The body of the table is composed of the data organized in accordance with the descriptions provided in the captions (columns) and stubs (rows). The most significant portion of the table is where the numerical data that must be provided to the readers are located. Information that is undesirable or pointless should be ignored. Totals for each distinct class or category must be provided right beneath the columns or next to the rows in order to maximize the table’s usability. The sums for all the classes for the rows and columns should also be provided.
  6. Footnote: They are used when a particular trait, feature, or element of the table has not been sufficiently explained and requires further explanation, or when new or supplemental information is needed for its full description. As the name implies, footnotes, if any, are positioned beneath the table’s body at the bottom.
  7. Source Note: If the source of the table is not made clear in the title, it must be noted in a source note at the bottom of the table, behind any applicable footnotes. If the secondary data are used, the source note is necessary. If the data are taken from a research journal or periodical, the source note should include the name of the journal or periodical, the date of publication, the volume number, any table numbers, page numbers, etc. so that anyone using the data can verify the accuracy of the figures in the table by consulting the original source, if necessary. The consumer will also be able to judge the data’s dependability thanks to the source note.

How to Tabulate Data (Rules for Tabular Presentation of Data):

It is difficult to give precise rules for tabulating data since it depends on the situation and the kind of data that we are dealing with. Nevertheless, some general rules to be followed are:

  1. The table should generally have more rows compared to the number of columns. This makes it easier to read and looks more pleasing.
  2. In all tables, the captions and stubs must be arranged in systematic order. For example, if we are dealing with numerical data it can be given in ascending order. If the data involved is chronological data then it should be arranged in order of time. If the data involves, an assorted list of categories it can be presented in alphabetical order.
  3. The units of measurement must be clearly defined and specified in the table.
  4. Figures should be rounded off to make the table easier to read.
  5. The table should not be filled with too many details. This is because our objective when tabulating the data is to present it in simplified form.

Advantages of Tabulation of Data:

  1. If the data’s information is presented as a running text in paragraphs, comprehension will take some time due to the need to comprehend all of the text’s minute details. One must read through every paragraph, which typically has a lot of repetition.
  2. By presenting the data in a clean and easily understandable way, tabulation avoids the drawback of the recurrence of explanatory phrases and headings and highlights the important and pertinent facts and information.
  3. Compared to data in text form, tabulated data have a more appealing appearance and make a stronger mental imprint.
  4. Tabulation also makes it easier to find inaccuracies and omissions in the data.
  5. By using comparisons, emphasis, and layout design, tabulation enables us to direct the viewer’s attention to particular facts.

Types of Tabulation:

There are numerous methods for creating statistical tables. Their decision mostly depends on the goals and parameters of the investigation, its type, and the breadth of its coverage.

1. One Way Table

The data are categorized based on a single attribute in a basic table, and consequently, it is also known as a one-way table.

2. Two-Way Table

A two-way table results when the caption is divided into two subgroups, or when the data is classified according to two attributes. Consequently, a two-way table provides details about two interconnected aspects of a certain phenomenon. For instance, a two-way table is produced by the distribution of a college’s student body according to age (the first feature) and sex (the second characteristic).

3. Three-Way Table

A three-way table is produced if the data are simultaneously categorized according to three characteristics. Consequently, a three-way table informs us of three interconnected aspects of a certain phenomenon. Three-way tables can be created, for instance, by grouping a population according to age, sex, and literacy, or by grouping university students according to age, sex, and their major. Tables depicting four or more interrelated characteristics are known as higher order tables or manifold tables.

Classification and Compilation vs Tabulation:

Classification of data must not be confused with the tabulation of data. Classification is merely the first step in the tabulation of data. Before the data is expressed in the tabular form it must be classified and the various categories of the data are written in rows or columns. For example, when collecting data on the athletic ability of individuals we might classify the data on the basis of gender. So we see that tabulation of data can occur only after the data has been classified and compiled into a useful form.

Why is tabulation important?

Tabulating data is important because it makes it possible to present a huge number of data values in a short and concise manner. The complex data can be grasped by the individual at a glance if it is in tabular form. Another advantage of putting data in tabular form is that it becomes easy to visualize the data in the form of bar graphs, pie charts, histograms, etc.

Tabulation of data involving two or more variables can help us to notice if there is any relationship or interdependency between the two variables. This is known as cross-tabulation of data. Such tables which are used to analyze the relationship between two or more variables are called cross tables.

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