Think carefully about what to put in the left column of a table

If you think of your table as a series of "if, then" sentences, always put the "if" part first. Make that the left column.

Another way to say this: When a site visitor asks a question to which your first answer is "it depends," that's a clue that you need a table. What it depends on becomes the left column of the table. The answer to the question for each site visitor's situation becomes the right column.

See the related guideline about sentences (Guideline 8 in Chapter 8).

Also, look back at the very first example in this book. Figure 1-2 includes a table as the answer to "What must I submit?" With very few words, the table conveys the message: "If you are building an airport . . ." and "If you are building a heliport . . ."

It depends on where we're shipping to and on the total cost of what you are buying.

With most tables, people scan down the left column to find the situation that is relevant to them. Then, they move along that row to get the information they need.

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