A table is a great way to portray your data in its raw format or if you need to showcase a large number of text or values. Your audience may also find it particularly useful if they just need to know the underlying data quickly. Considering who will be reading or using your data is key to deciding if the table is the best option.

Let’s start by taking a look at the table in our Simpsons Episodes visualization. When your dataset has more than one set of values with a direct relationship, the table is a great way to keep that data organized. Below we can easily read all the components of the Simpsons episodes in distinguishable columns and rows.

The columns and rows also make it easier to compare data side by side – which will help your audience visualize relationships and quickly draw conclusions. In our World University Rankings visualization we can see the universities are sorted by rank from ascending order. By filtering the table, we can easily begin to visualize distinct patterns. For example, let’s click the header ‘Country’. Now the universities are arranged by their country in alphabetical order (clicking the header twice will filter the countries in reverse alphabetical order). We can break down the data even further by clicking a specific country. For example let’s click United Kingdom – now we can only see the universities aggregated by that particular country.

There are no strict rules to how your data should be presented, but these guidelines will help you choose the right chart type that clearly communicates your data to your audience and speaks for itself.  

Feel inspired to create a table with Gist? Explore the endless possibilities at app.gistapp.com.