When should you use tables to supplement your writing and when is it unnecessary? Creation of tables in Word or Excel has a learning curve, so if you struggle with it at first as a writer or editor, you’re not alone.
The first thing everyone should know is the terminology applying to this topic. If you get that down, you’ll be better able to look up help for problems if they occur, not to mention being able to communicate with your editor, advisor, and others in the process, as well as not signaling to the reader that you’re uninformed.
Table: A table is a grid-style presentation of alphanumeric data (that is, letters, words, and numbers) in rows and columns.* If you use APA style, be aware that it includes very specific formatting rules for tables and their captions.
Chart or graph: Both of these words refer to a data display that presents the relationships among pieces of information in a visually helpful way. Bar charts, pie charts, flow charts, and line graphs are common types.
Figure: The figure category can include charts or graphs (but not tables), as well as any other kind of visual material that enhances the text, such as illustrations or photographs. APA style, again, has particular rules for captioning figures.
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