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11.15 Tables and graphs

If you are conveying two or three short pieces of statistical information, incorporate them into a sentence in the text. Show more extensive information in the form of a table or, in order to highlight relationships and trends, in the form of a chart, graph or diagram. Significant aspects of the tables or charts should be interpreted in the text. Create tables and charts using the appropriate functions in your word-processing or spreadsheet program, and insert them as soon as possible after the paragraphs in which they are mentioned.

Follow these guidelines on form and content:

  • Limit the amount of data in graphs and tables to essentials.
  • Keep the display simple, with clear and concise headings (column heads) at the top of each column.
  • If symbols are being used, place them at the head of each column.
  • Singular forms are preferred in the column heads, e.g. Country of origin, Currency.
  • Currency symbols can be placed before the first entry of each column, but do not repeat unit designations.
  • With large sums, space can be saved by placing a notation such as

    (in thousands)
    directly beneath the column head.

  • Explain abbreviations in the reference notes.
  • Be consistent in the use of capitalization, fonts, italics and spacing in tables and charts.
  • Make sure that bar and pie charts are visually accurate and that tables add up.
  • Place footnotes for tables immediately below the graphic presentation and indicate them with a superscript number, letter or symbol (see 9.23 Footnotes).
  • Give a source reference at the end of the table, where appropriate.

Consult Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers1 for further information on tables, graphs and illustrations.


  • Back to the note1 Council of Biology Editors, Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, pp. 677–99.

The model table below illustrates many of the recommendations made in this section:

Table A

Foreign Currencies: Codes and Values

Country Currency Code2 Value (C$)3
Australia dollar AUD $1.0774
Austria schilling ATS 0.1356
Belgium franc BEF 0.0464
Brazil real4 BRC 1.4871
France franc FRF 0.2796
Germany mark DEM 0.9542
Greece drachma GRD 1.0060
Italy lira ITL 0.0009
Japan yen JPY 0.0134
Mexico peso MXP 0.2048
Netherlands guilder NLG 0.8537
Spain peseta ESP 0.0114
Switzerland franc CHF 1.1729
United Kingdom pound GBP 2.1356
United States dollar USD 1.3905