Presenting numerical values within sentences and text tables



A text table is a simple table, with no or minimal chartlike elements, that is incorporated directly within a sentence. It can be very efficient in conveying quantitative (and sometimes qualitative) information that can be difficult to read within one or two sentences, but which is too simple to present within a regular table. Although this format has been used in the scientific literature, and indeed recommended in some sources, its effectiveness has not been studied in formal surveys. This article presents the results of one such survey in which three examples were considered. Scientists representing mathematics, statistics, and similar disciplines and scientists representing biology, agriculture, and similar disciplines were asked to participate in the survey; 189 representing the former and 201 representing the latter agreed. The results clearly showed for both groups, when the data presented were suitable for such a layout, that the text tables were much preferred to the original sentences. The main conclusion from this work, therefore, is that scientific authors should use text tables whenever appropriate.