11 Steps to Prepare Tables in a Technical Report
Preparing tables in a technical report is a matter of paramount significance, as it helps in presenting scientific data in an efficient manner.
Definition of Table
A table is a typographical device consisting of rows and columns. We use it to present in condensed form, many pieces of related information for comparison, selection or study.
The entries in tables may be either numbers or words so arranged, that their relationship is readily apparent.
Tables play a major role in technical reports and, should be accurate, complete and economical of space.
We should ensure that the table title clearly describes the information contained in it.
For a special-purpose table, the title should indicate that purpose.
The biggest problem encountered in composing a title of the table is its being intolerably long.
The title should be definite, clear and short. But the utmost important thing is that it must convey the information clearly even at the cost of being a bit long.
More about Tables
Tables permit rapid access to and relatively easy comparison of information. The tables may also show trend or pattern of an increasing /decreasing activity, over an extended period.
Therefore, tables are integral part of a well written technical report.
Steps to prepare tables in a technical report
We should take the following steps to prepare tables in a technical report.
1. Decide upon the purpose of the table. It is helpful to write this down, so that you can keep it in mind and use it to check the table, when it is complete.
2. We should write down the two primary classifications, which we want to use.
3. Decide which classification will be placed vertically and which horizontally.
4. Make a detailed outline for each of the primary classifications. Check these outlines for consistency and logic.
5. Make a preliminary design and fill in the column heads and stub. Insert enough entries, so that you can test the design for ease of reading and effectiveness.
6. Consider alternate designs with an open mind. If another design appears possible, try it out. If any doubt, try the column heads in the stub and see if this makes the table more effective.
7. When you have decided upon a firm design, insert all of the entries in the body of the table.
8. Write the footnotes and key them to the proper entries or heads.
9. Write the title.
This should be done after the table has been designed rather than before, so that you can be sure of the contents. If it appears to be too long, try to shorten it by introducing a subtitle.
10. Write any head notes that may be required.
11.Finally, we should check the table against the purpose for which it was designed.
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