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Graphical Presentation of Data

Graphs, tables, text boxes, and sentences can all be used to communicate quantitative information in epidemiology. Graphs present the big picture; they show patterns and trends. Tables contain the details, so they are useful for looking up specific values. Although sentences can provide a small amount of numerical data clearly, the numbers are easily lost in a page of text. Therefore, text boxes are useful for highlighting these numbers. This entry discusses how to choose between tables and graphs, the advantages of each, and guidelines for effective tables and graphs.

Choosing Tables or Graphs

Graphs are preferable for some situations and tables for others. The following list points out the advantages of each:

  • Graphs show the big picture: patterns, trends, correlations, and the general shape of the data, ...
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