The quick answer (which might be much less than satisfying) is:it depends. Mostly, it counts on who the audience is and how the data will certainly be used. One vital thing to understand is that civilization interact an extremely differently with these two species of visuals. Let"s take a rapid look in ~ how and also some use instances for each, then we"ll look in ~ a specific example indigenous a recent WSJ article.

You are watching: How is a graph similar to a data table

Tables, through their rows and also columns the data, interact primarily v our verbal system. Wereadtables. As soon as I have actually a table in former of me, I commonly have my two index fingers out - i scan throughout rows, down columns, and also I to compare values. Tables are good when you have actually an audience who wants to do simply that. Or if you have a varied audience, whereby each desires to look in ~ their own piece: a table can fulfill this need. Tables are additionally handy as soon as you have countless different systems of measure, which deserve to be complicated to pull off in straightforward to review manner in a graph.

Graphs, on the other hand, communicate with our visual system. It"s a high bandwidth information flow from what our eyes view to the comprehension in our brain, which have the right to be extremely an effective when done well. Graphs can present an tremendous amount of data quickly and also in an easy-to-consume fashion; they are specifically useful when there is a allude to be made in the shape of the data, or for reflecting how different things (variables) called to every other.

Let"s look at an example. There was an article posted newly in the wall Street Journal virtual titled, "Young Workers prefer Facebook, Apple, and also Google" (article). With the article, came an "Interactive Graphic," a table listing the 150 companies had in the survey, family member rank, and also the portion of young worker respondents the voted for each. (Slight tangent: while I intend the interactive label fits, i was a tiny surprised to discover that the only way I could connect with the data was to sort each pillar in one of two people ascending or descending order - ns guess this would be advantageous if ns were trying to find a particular company, therefore I can alphabetize the list, yet utility beyond that is limited.) Here"s what the optimal of the table looked like:


Question: was it appropriate of WSJ to encompass a table quite than a graph?

In this case, ns think the prize is yes. The short article spends time mentioning Google in the height spot (making the write-up title seem somewhat incongruous to me...also amazing that they cite Google last out of the 3 companies dubbed out in the title while that ranked first), but then additionally points out some other nuances, for instance the decrease in financial sector rankings (though the year end year data is not provided to the user). My assumption is that they wanted to includeallof the data so the users can look up details companies of interest, or look in ~ the optimal or bottom of the list. This access time the among the table criteria that we defined above: a diverse audience, each wanting come look up their own piece.

If, however, the main goal is to do the point that Google is well ahead of the load (which is the focus of the bulk of the article), a graph would aid us to visually tell the story an ext quickly and arguably much more effectively than have the right to be done through the table.

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Question: what need to we graph? Graphing all 150 companies is the end of the question: there space too many and also the tail will take up much more space 보다 the value seeing it will certainly add. So we understand we should graph something less than all, but the concern remains: where have to we do the cutoff?

We can pick a clean number (this is likely the rationale behind the peak 3 the WSJ mentions in title): peak 5, peak 10, height 20. However in law so, we operation the risk of including and also excluding companies of very similar values (for example, if us were come graph the peak 10, we"d incorporate the CIA in ~ 5.04% yet exclude Nike, i m sorry is only 3 communication points lower, in ~ 5.01%). This isn"t to say this isn"t acceptable, yet to allude out that it should be an clearly decision: girlfriend should recognize the pros and also cons of this approach and be accepting of the cons (vs. Not recognizing the they exist).

Another choice is come graph the data and then look for the natural breaks that occur and also have our cutoff reflect this nuance in the data. Here"s what the looks favor if we graph the top 25 (quick & dirty):