Use space efficiently

Word processing software provides various table templates that greatly facilitate table formatting. Take the time to experiment with table shapes. Provide enough spacing between rows and columns to create a perceptual order to the data.

Most journals are printed in either a one-column or two-column format. Publications with a one-column format usually handle wide tables better than those with a two-column format; the latter will generally try to fit smaller tables into the width of a single column. Whenever possible, design tables (and figures, see below) to fit the width of a single column of text. In most scientific publications, narrow tables will stand a better chance of being printed close to the corresponding text.

Straightforward but often overlooked strategies for minor condensing include eliminating repeated words and economizing on heading lengths by judicious use of abbreviations. The key word is judicious, however. If abbreviations are overused, the table will no longer be understandable as a stand-alone product. Tables 3.3 and 3.4 are cautionary examples.

When all entries in a column or row are identical, it is nearly always advisable to drop that column or row. Instead, note the identical value in the text or in a table footnote.

Ifmajor condensing seems to be needed, instead consider dividing the material into two or more smaller tables. Consider whether the material in a complex table really must be presented as one unit.

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