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#FridayFact: Tables Can Be Boring

#FridayFact: Tables Can Be Boring published on 17 Comments on #FridayFact: Tables Can Be Boring

Old French Table by French Finds on Flickr, used under a CC-BY licenseThis week, I have been sharing information to help you polish the content and design of your Analysis project. Today, I am continuing that theme with my #FridayFact: Tables can be boring. If you do not work on document design, tables are often a visual jumble of words and numbers. Same goes for spreadsheets, but we won’t talk about them in this course.

Back to tables, with so much information jammed into columns and rows, the information can become hard to read. If it’s hard to differentiate between the rows of information, readers can easily lose track of where they are in a table. When the column headings scroll out of view, readers may not recall the information every column contains.

To help you solve the challenge of boring tables, I have these articles you can read and apply to your Analysis project:

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Photo credit: Old French Table by French Finds on Flickr, used under a CC-BY license.




Both of the articles were useful, but I liked the “10 easy ways to turn a dull word table into a design element” better than the other one though. It was more exact and had applicable tips in it that the second one didn’t. My favorite tip of the 10 that were given was setting a custom table setting for instant formatting. That would be super helpful given that I need to create a labor log every week. Another feature that I thought applicable was making space between the cells of a table. This would give the page texture and interesting to look at. Color-wise, I usually make the background of the titles or headers one color and the actual content of the table another color. I also made a bold border around the header row/column. This isn’t too much trouble and makes the table easier to read and interpret.

I agree with Aaron– I found the “10 easy ways to turn a dull word table into a design element” because they seemed like tools I could see myself actually using. The second article had a lot of information I had learned in a BIT class previously and seemed to apply more to Big Data rather than the project we are doing in this class. The tips I plan on using in this project that I learned from the first article are to align the table, wrap the text, and I think I will try playing around with adding space in between the cells. I hope to play around with the different skills I learned and see what looks the best visually appealing and has the intended effect I am aiming for.

I agree with both Aaron and Katherine that the “10 easy ways to turn a dull Word table into a design element” was more helpful than the “8 Formatting Tips for Perfect Tables in Microsoft Word”. I feel like some of the material from the second article wasn’t as helpful and some of it was common sense if you are someone who uses Microsoft Word a decent bit. The first article was super helpful because I was able to learn a couple of things about formatting a table that I never knew before. I liked #5 on the list (add space between cells) because I learned that this option exists and this can help a table look a lot less cluttered. I also never knew that there was a button under the table layout tab that allows you to turn off gridlines, that way you can actually see where existing table lines are. This article really helped me to learn more about tables and hopefully I can apply some of these things to the table I am creating for the writing analysis project.

Both of these articles provided interesting information, but the “10 easy was to turn a dull word table into a design element” had helpful information on table borders, and design elements to make tables more visually appealing, and separate it from the rest of the text. Additionally, having space around the tables allows for more separation and emphasis on that table. Though these details seem small and on a local scale do not seem to matter much, when writing a research paper, or grant, or proposal, being able to turn these graphs into an alternative medium for expressing data in a quick and easy way can make all the difference. When I am reading through literature to help understand my research better, the layout of graphs and tables is very important because it turns all the data into something that can be expressed in a 5×5 inch box compared to a page long summary of words.

You’re exactly right Mark! I liked how the “10 easy ways to turn a dull word table into a design element” not only featured ways to make a table flow better in your document, but also ways to make it stand out. I also agree with the importance of tables summarizing key points. Often times, I find them the most helpful in understanding writings since they should summarize the key points or data results. Of course, a poor table design defeats the purpose of making the writing easier to read so It really is essential that the organization and layout is optimized.

I wonder if anyone puts tables in their resumes? It would be a creative element and if done correctly, it could definitely highlight your skills and experience.

I’ve used columns in resumes, though not tables per se. They didn’t have borders, etc. Columns can certainly be handy when you have shorter lists of information, like lists of skills or relevant courses.

I think both articles provided us with interesting information regarding information on how to improve tables. I’ve been making tables ever since I can remember (as we all have) and I know I’ll be making a lot more tables in the future, so I’m glad we got to understand more about the logistics of making them. My favorite rule and one that I never really thought about until now is giving space within the table. Nobody wants to read a table that looks just like a paragraph document because that’s intimidating and also boring. If there’s more space between the text in the different boxes then it’s easier to read and that’s something I’ll start doing from now on.

I agree with the other comments that adding space within the table was the most helpful information from the article on the “10 easy ways to turn a dull Word table into a design element.” I think adding space between the cells and in the table will help the information to be conveyed more easily. The directions on how to manually shade the cells and borders was also helpful and I will use those tips when applying colors from the color wheel.

Although I did like how the second article described and provided pictures on how to create what it was referring to, The first article is definitely more helpful when it comes to making visually appealing tables. My favorite of the 10 tips was tip #5 -Add space between cells. The example given for this tip showed a before/after image of a table reformatted to include a lot more color and space. This approach is very aesthetically pleasing to me and as such I will probably use a similar method when developing tables of my own.

Both articles provided useful information about creating and formatting tables in Word but I agree with the other comments that the “10 easy ways to turn a dull Word table into a design element” article was the most helpful, especially for our current assignment. The other article provided information on editing and formatting tables in Word which will be helpful in the future but not necessarily for the analysis of writing assignment. I agree that spacing in the table is very important since it prevents the table from looking cramped and improves the overall appearance of the table.

I found these articles to be really useful and full of new information. Usually when I make tables in Microsoft Word they’re extremely utilitarian, and I don’t often put much thought into the aesthetics of the table. But now that I have learned some of these techniques I’m looking forward to implementing them in my work. I especially thought the information in the article on turning text sideways in a table was interesting because I didn’t actually know that it was that easy to do in Word, and I can envision a lot of scenarios where that would be very useful.

I found “10 easy ways etc.” much more helpful from an aesthetics standpoint than the “8 Formatting Tips” article. I felt as though the latter would be more helpful in a data analytics situation rather than a table formatting situation. It seemed like it was just a bunch of Excel tricks so that you don’t have to redo your whole table if you mistake rows for columns for example. “10 easy ways” gave more useful tips for design of the tables as well as how to implement those design tips. Overall, I found both to be interesting, but the former to be much more helpful.

As someone who rarely formats tables I thought both articles were very helpful, especially the second article since it provided visual pictures of what they were talking about. I think the first article dove more into “professional” tables, such as providing a analytical table at a conference/presentation. I never considered how important a table could be, especially when it comes to visuals. I gathered that you want to showcase information in a table so that it stands out. It’s easy to create a simple table from the default settings in Word, however, the way you format the table is what can separate it from being accepted as professional or not.

Definitely agreeing with the crowd here on Jody Gilbert’s article being the most helpful. Adding space between the cells creates a focus effect for me and having a background/surrounding color around the cells can help categorize my information in ways not visible with simple black-and-white tables. The tip on turning the text sideways I like because it can simplify the content and make it easier to read! Great article

I agree with some of the comments on here about the ” 10 Easy Ways to Turn a Dull Word Table into a Design Element” article being the most helpful. It goes into very good details about the small features and design aspects that can applied to a table to make it more appealing and easier on the eyes. Also, I believe Microsoft has done a great job with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, to provide a myriad of design styles and formatting tools that are easy to implement. All the same, there is a learning curve to this and the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Great articles!

I think the 10 ways article was presented much more clearly and concisely than the 8 ways article, though the 10 ways article did seem to stick to pretty obvious recommendations that I could have thought of myself. I figure a good piece of advice I could give would be to bold a specific region of the table you felt was the most important, such as a piece that follows a trend or one that provides specifically applicable information to the reader. That doesn’t help much with this project, but as a statistics major, I work with a lot of tables and that would help me in my own field.

Most of these tips I have found on my own during my academic career such as applying shading and borders and rotating font. Especially when a table contains a lot of information, I have had to come up with ways to make certain information stand out which has lead to a lot of time playing around with making tables and charts in Excel and Word. However, I have never considered using or tried to use the AutoFormat feature, partly because it never worked for me and partly because I forget that it is an option. Seeing the capabilities of this feature though and how it can make the information stand out even more makes me more inclined to learn how to use AutoFormat for future projects. Yet another helpful resource.

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