fredag 1 april 2016

Extracting sunbeams from cucumbers: How to design a better table

Figure 1. Display format frequency for
the 2008 New England Journal of Medicine.
From Significance
In 2009 I did a survey of the use of data displays in a number of leading journals and found that, in all of the sciences that I surveyed, the dominant form of data display was the table.1 This is despite the century-old warning of the brothers Farquhar that: “Getting information from a table is like extracting sunbeams from a cucumber.”2

Figure 1 shows the results for the New England Journal of Medicine, which are essentially identical to those from the Journal of the American Medical Association and all of the other journals I looked at.