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Ten Guidelines for Better Tables

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2020

Jonathan A. Schwabish*
The Urban Institute 500 L’Enfant Plaza, SW Washington, DC20024


Tables are a unique form of visualizing data because, unlike many charts, they are not usually intended to give a quick, visual representation of data. Instead, tables are useful when you want to show the exact values of your data or estimates. They are not the best solution if you want to show a lot of data or if you want to show the data in a compact space, but a well-designed table can help your reader find specific numbers and discover patterns and outliers. In this article, I present 10 guidelines for creating better, more effective tables; I then model these lessons by redesigning six tables from articles previously published in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis.

Invited Paper
© Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis, 2020

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