Table 3. People with HIV/AIDS, 2003
UNIT 10. TABLES
There is nothing better than a table for arranging large blocks of numeric data.
A table is a set of facts or figures systematically displayed in columns and rows.
Tables appear in print media, handwritten notes, computer software, technical documentation, architectural ornamentation, and many other places. In books and technical articles, tables are typically presented apart from the main text in numbered and captioned blocks .
A table consists of an ordered arrangement of elements. The elements of a table may be grouped, segmented, or arranged in various ways. Such elements may be divided into those occurring before, within and after the table.
The elements preceding the table per se include the heading which contains the table number, title and headnote. In most cases the table number is flushed left above the table title. Each table should have a concise, descriptive title stating the main subject of the table. The headnote, a short explanatory note that applies to all values in the table, such as the unit of measure, is enclosed in parentheses flush left below the table title.
The elements within the table consist of rows and columns, the intersection of which forms cells. The left-hand column and the top row of a table, or the stub, normally contain headings and subheadings, i.e. a list of the categories or entities about which information is given in the cells. If a heading applies to more than one column, a spanner head (also called a “decked head”) may be used to avoid repetition. The stub row is called the header row. The stub column may require a section head which is used when a table has two or more subdivisions that require different column heads. Section heads precede the column heads, are italicized and table wide. The last row contains totals which are indented and boldfaced .
The elements appearing after the table may include the following:
The words “Source(s)”, “Note(s)” and “Abbreviations” are printed in italics and followed by a colon . (See Example 1)
Example 1. Table elements (the element numbers are explained below)
Table 3. People with HIV/AIDS, 2003
Source: AIDS Epidemic Update (Geneva, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and World Health Organization, 2003).
Abbreviations: HIV, human immunodeficiency virus; AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Note: Figures do not include AIDS deaths in 2003.
The figures in the table above indicate the following:
1. Table number
4. Section head
5. Spanner head
8. Column head
10. Source note
11. Explanatory note
Table description rules 
Table description should be structured simply with an introduction, body and conclusion. Tenses should be used appropriately.
In introduction use two standard opening sentences to introduce the table and your report. These opening sentences should make up the first paragraph. The first sentence should define what the table is about; that is, the date, location, what is being described in the graphs etc.
For example: The table shows how people in different age groups spend their leisure time in Someland over the course of a year. Notice that the sample opening sentence does not simply copy the words used in the graphic material. Sentence two gives information presented in the stub, i.e. the first row and column. For example: It can be seen that the amount of leisure time varies considerably across the age groups. Notice the tense used. In this case there is no date given and so we must take the table information as being current now.
The main body requires several paragraphs. Here you should objectively describe the information presented in a table. Don’t try to describe every detail. Sum up the overall trend.
For example: According to the figures, as people age in Someland their social lives reduce.
Look for significant features: the greatest increase and decrease, the shortest time period, the overall trend, etc. You will need to decide on the most clear and logical order to present the material. Generally you will choose one of the categories given in the table.
For example: People of all ages spend a good part of their leisure time on entertainment such as TV/video viewing and cinema.
Think about the clearest way to express figures, e.g. in percentages or expressions like one in ten, a quarter, the majority, etc. Do not speculate about the reasons for trends. Stick to the facts. Use a range of structures and vocabulary correctly, don’t sound repetitive.
For example: According to the figures, as people age in Someland their social lives reduce. Teenagers and people in their twenties spend on average 500 hours per year on socialising. The total hours of socialising in older groups decrease tenfold in the 30s and 40s age groups and are twenty times less in the group of those who are 50 s and older. Group and individual exercise follow a similar pattern.
In the conclusion part, your report should end with one or two sentences which summarise your report or draw a relevant conclusion. End with a comment on general trend: e.g. The figures for the period suggest that…; From this evidence we can conclude that…, etc.
For example: In conclusion we can see there is a significant trend towards smaller group activities as people grow older. (See Example 2)
Example 2. Sample of a table description
The table shows how people in different age groups spend their leisure time in Someland over the course of a year. It can be seen that the amount of leisure time varies considerably across the age groups.
According to the figures, as people age in Someland their social lives reduce. Teenagers and people in their twenties spend on average 500 hours per year on socialising. The total hours of socialising in older groups decrease tenfold in the 30s and 40s age groups and are twenty times less in the group of those who are 50 s and older. Group and individual exercise follow a similar pattern.
People of all ages spend their leisure time on entertainment such as TV/video viewing and cinema. In both cases, teenagers and retired people spend around twice as much time as those who are at working age.
In conclusion we can see there is a significant trend towards smaller group activities as people grow older.
 A. Fink, How to Conduct Surveys. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005
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REMEMBER [2, 3, 4]
1. Number the tables consecutively with Arabic numerals and refer to them in the text as Table 1, Table 2, etc. If there is only one table in a document, it is not numbered and the word “Table” is omitted from the heading.
2. Do not review or duplicate the tabled data extensively in the text.
3. Space your tables efficiently, tables should not be too large, make them no wider than the page.
4. Wherever possible, use phrases, rather than complete sentences, in footnotes. The present participle of a verb, rather than the present or past tense, should be used (e.g. “Excluding livestock” rather than “Excludes livestock”).
5. Do not include excessive text in the column headings. Place explanatory information in the table caption, in the manuscript text, or in a footnote at the bottom of the table.
6. Better make your table in MS Word or Excel. Do not submit tables in a graphic format.
7. Capitalize only the first word and proper nouns and adjectives in a caption. Do not use italicized or bold-face type in the headnotes.
8. When using uncommon abbreviations, decode them in a footnote.
9. Do not leave any cells blank. If no information is available, supply an appropriate symbol to explain the absence of data.
10. Use indentation and boldface type for totals and subtotals.
11. Use bracketed superscripted letters ([a], [b], [c], etc.) for explanatory footnotes within the table.
12. Capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns for table heads.
13. As with figures, the word Table should be capitalized when a specific table is being mentioned (Table 4.5), but lowercase when the reference is generic (The following table...).
Activity 1. Complete the crossword below
3. it states the main subject of the table
6. the reference to the source from which the information is taken
9. the intersection of rows and columns
10. it is stacked flush left above the table title
11. the left-hand column and the top row of a table
1. a short explanatory note that applies to all values in the table
2. the stub row
4. a statement qualifying or explaining the information presented in or omitted from a specific cell
5. the element of the table which contains the table number, title and headnote
7. a means of arranging data in rows and columns
8. the element of the table including abbreviations or symbols used therein.
Activity 2. Label the elements of the sample table below:
Activity 3. Correct the 6 mistakes in the table below.
Number and percentage of female staff, by grade, in posts subject to geographical distribution and posts with special language requirements (1993 and 2003)
Source: Private Participation in Infrastructure Project Database, World Bank
Note: Includes private and public contributions.
Activity 4. Describe the table below.
Table 1. The worldwide market share of the notebook computer market for manufacturers in the years 2006 and 2007.
Mark the statements as True or False:
1. There are special requirements to the type-face in a table
2. A table is usually preceded and followed by some text.
3. A typical table consists only of two components.
4. You should always number your tables regardless of their quantity.
5. The word “table” shouldn’t be always capitalized in the text.
6. A headnote is the title of the table.
7. It’s better to make your tables in the MS Word format.