Steer clear of grossly oversized tables

Broadside tables - tables so wide that they must be printed at right angles to the text - are an inconvenience to readers who must turn the journal sideways to read them. Likewise, lengthy tables that spill over from one printed page to another are difficult for printers to align and difficult for readers to use. Some journals flatly refuse to print such tables.

Large compilations of data often include information that is nonessential to the paper's real purpose. Before altering the table's format, ask (1) whether all the information in the table actually is necessary, and (2) whether it must be presented in its current form. Does the reader need to know individual test results, or might summary statistics (such as mean, standard deviation, range, or median) be sufficient?

Data are not sacred simply because they have been collected, no matter how much work was involved in that collection. If you feel strongly that some readers of your condensed table will be vitally interested in more details long after you are able to provide them personally, consider placing your reams of data in permanent storage. The editor of the journal in which reference to the deposited material will be made can suggest arrangements for the deposit of such material. Detailed information on how to access this adjunct material must be clearly given in the acknowledgments section or as a table footnote.

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