Table and Figure Exercise


Objectives: This exercise will give you a chance to think about the comparative advantages of presenting data in tabular or graphic formats. It will also give us some material to use in class when we ask what qualities contribute to effective tables and figures.


You may use some of your own material for this exercise, or you may use a table or figure from an article of your choice in any refereed journal (presumably one similar to the one you will publish). If you make your own, follow the format required by the journal in which you will publish.




Select a table from your own manuscript or a published paper. Using some or all of the data in the table, create a two-dimensional figure (plot, graph) that depicts the results. Consider carefully whether to use a line plot, scatter plot, histogram, etc. You might want to try more than one type of plot, but submit only the one you think is most effective. Provide an informative caption for the figure you have constructed. Submit the table you selected along with the figure you produced.


Alternatively, select a figure from your own manuscript or a published paper. Estimate the data points and construct a table to present them clearly. Use the table format accepted by the journal to which you plan to submit your article. Provide an informative title for your newly constructed table. Submit a photocopy of the figure you selected along with the table you've produced.


If you use your own material, produce both a table and a figure from the same data set.


Please bring multiple copies of your tables and figures to class to aid in our discussion, or copy them onto acetate for overhead projection.


Finally, write a paragraph or two in which you provide a general critique of the advantages and disadvantages of using tables vs. figures (plots, graphs) to depict data. Then discuss which method was best for the data you used. Please be sure to address the following questions in your response.


Why do you prefer one method over the other for these data?

How did you decide what type of plot to use?

Would it be preferable to place some or all of these data in the text rather than in either a table or a figure (plot, graph)? Why?


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