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Statistical Tables, Their Use, Rules, Importance

A table is a form of a visual data that summarizes findings for a group of quantities. All information that is presented in tables is spread in rows and columns. Usually, data from a top row is associated with values given in a vertical column, which is usually on the left. Tables are very useful in representing scientific or economic data, which is helpful in education processes and professional field. For instance, a table may represent a change in temperature in a certain location during a yearly period (NASA Goddard, 2016). In such case, it would have 12 cells containing the values of the average temperature for each month. However, the study period may vary, and time may be defined by days or even hours. For example, there is a study of the temperature change over the Hayman Fire Scar, where researchers offer readers a table of with the results of measurements (Lemone, Bingcheng, Barlage, & Fei, 2017). Their table has four rows of data, each belonging to a specific date and time. Depending on the wish of its creator, this table may be either spread horizontally or vertically. Usually, this is determined by the document’s parameters, as whether it would be better to wrap the text around a table or would it fit on one page.

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Parts of the Table

A standard table includes two key elements, which are rows and columns. Rows are structured horizontally, and columns appear vertically. An intersection of rows and columns forms cells. Each cell represents the connection between the values specified in them. For instance, this paper contains a table that represents the statistics of the daily average birth and death numbers for people living in the New York State. The second row consists of the value “Vital Event” and a sequence of years. These years are the study period of the mentioned conditions among the population. The column under the “Vital Events” value represents studied elements, which are births, deaths, and marriages. An intersection of a vital event and a year features a cell with a value that formally means how many cases like this happened on the average during a studied time. For instance, the cell on the intersection of the “Total Births” and “2014” values shows that there were on the average 950 children born each day in New York during this specified year.

While this table does not have a subcolumn, it is one of the elements that also regularly appears in tables (Kolin, 2016, p. 410). A subcolumn is used when a regular column is too general or can have different values depending on the measurement system. For example, the USA uses pounds, miles, Fahrenheit degrees, and other values, while European calculations are fully corresponding with the metric system. Thus, a table featuring temperature in rainforests over the years as a demonstration of the climate change threat may have this value specified by subcolumns showing both Fahrenheit and Celsius degrees. Another popular example includes cooking recipes, where ingredient amounts are presented in a form of a table. Some people are used to measuring ingredients in cups, while others prefer ounces.

The stub is another vital element of any table. It is the first column that appears on the left side. In the table that is presented in this paper, the stub has specifications of vital events. For instance, the first part of it includes such values as total pregnancies, teenage pregnancies, live births, low birthweight births, multiple births (mother), multiple births (baby), spontaneous fetal deaths, and induced abortions. The stub draws attention to the main variable that represents the object of a study.

A rule is another element that is essential to any table. It helps to separate the title from the main body featuring values. For instance, the presented table has a line between the cell containing the title “Average Daily Statistics for Selected Vital Events: NYC 2008-2014” and the following row that has the studied value name and the years of statistical research. A rule can be either bold or similar to other cell border lines. In this case, it is the same as other borders, yet the cell containing the title has a different color that helps to distinguish it from the table’s body.

General Rules for Using Tables

There are several rules that help to create tables which are easy to read and understand. Most of these rules concern the proper positioning of elements, as well as the whole table. Certain design and referencing are also important.

The first rule is to keep the tables positioned where they would have the most value. Sometimes authors decide to put all the statistical information in the end of their work in a form of attachments. This is usually the case with long reports published individually, or scholarly works that are submitted as a course assignment. However, media like books or magazines usually feature tables beside the text describing them. Such step makes readers better associate the writing with the statistical data pictured in a visual form. Besides, it may be difficult to follow the text when there is a need to constantly refer to the end of the work to check the data described. Tables are usually put at the top or bottom of the page, and most of them are centered. However, this largely depends on the media type. Thus, books with creative design often place tables at any part of the page. Another important guideline is not to make a table too wide or long. It is more preferable to have all the data organized vertically instead of horizontally. Besides, breaking a table into several pages makes it more difficult to read. Nevertheless, it is often a necessity, as it is with the table presented here as an example. Usually, voluminous tables contain a lot of statistical data regarding numerous values that were studied over a long period.

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Referencing and notes are one of the most important features of each table. An author may wish to add specifications to any values presented in the table. However, since all the information in its body must be kept short and accurate, authors often use footnotes or star references below a table. For instance, the example in this paper has a specification for the “Deaths – Any Mention of a Cause” value since there might be a misunderstanding of the data presented under it. This table uses the information presented in a report done by the Health Department in the NY state. Thus, a scholar should reference it following the APA style guidelines (Purdue Online Writing Lab, n. d.). Finally, all tables must be numbered if there are several of them.

Average Daily Statistics for Selected Vital Events: NYC 2008-2014
Vital Event 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Total Pregnancies 1,057 1,038 1,021 992 972 950 950
Teenage Pregnancies 108 102 94 83 74 65 56
Live Births 684 676 666 657 655 645 652
Low Birthweight Births 56 55 55 53 52 51 51
Multiple Births (Mother) 13 13 13 13 12 13 13
Multiple Births (Baby) 26 27 26 26 25 26 26
Spontaneous Fetal Deaths 49 57 51 54 50 47 42
Induced Abortions 324 315 305 281 267 258 256
Deaths – Underlying Cause
Total Deaths 404 397 397 403 404 404 404
Infant Deaths 4 4 3 3 3 3 3
Heart Disease Deaths 135 127 122 120 119 118 116
Diabetes Deaths 10 10 10 11 11 11 11
Stroke Deaths 16 16 17 17 17 16 17
Kidney Disease Deaths 6 7 7 6 6 6 6
Alzheimer’s Deaths 6 7 7 7 7 7 7
Accidental Deaths 14 13 13 14 15 15 15
Cancer Deaths 96 96 96 96 98 96 95
Suicide Deaths 4 4 4 4 5 4 4
Homicide Deaths 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
AIDS Deaths 3 3 3 2 2 2 2
Deaths – Any Mention of a Cause*
Opioid-Related Deaths 2 2 2 3 3 3 4
Firearm-Related Deaths 3 3 3 3 3 2 2
Alcohol-Related Deaths 10 11 11 11 12 12 12
Marriages and Dissolutions
Marriages 348 336 340 360 369 377 383
Dissolutions 146 138 156 156 161 160 155
* – Conditions mentioned in any position in the Multiple Cause of Death file


Kolin, P. C. (2016). Successful writing at work (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Lemone, M. A., Bingcheng, W., Barlage, M., & Fei, C. (2017). The influence of fire-induced surface changes on the diurnal temperature changes over the Hayman Fire Scar. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 56(1), 45-67. Web.

NASA Goddard. (2016). NASA sees temperatures rise and sea ice shrink – climate trends 2016. Web.

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n. d.). General format. Web.

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