Tables and Illustrations in Coursework

When and How to Use Numbers, Tables and Illustrations in Coursework

Sep 28, 2012
Sometimes words might simply not be adequate to convey information clearly and quickly; this is where numbers, tables and illustrations help you as a writer, especially as you can use these with, without or with fewer words than you would otherwise use. One instance where numbers play a major role is when you want to be precise about something. For example - when some one tells you that they will complete the task very soon, and the next question you ask them is when; this is because you want a precise answer or information. The same applies to readers as well, and you should use numbers, tables and illustrations in you writing wherever your readers won't be satisfied with vague information.

When to Use Numbers in Your Coursework

In your coursework, as a rule of thumb, be precise wherever possible. In spite of being vague in your writing, use numbers to help your readers with the answer to their question 'how many'. You should also use apposite unit of measurement to specify exact quantity. Units of measurement will help your readers with answers to the questions such as 'how far', 'how long', 'how heavy' and 'how thick'.
When you have to mention a date in your coursework, restrain from using words; instead use Arabic number when writing dates in your coursework. For example - if you have to write 15.04.2010, then write it as 15 April 2010 or 15th April 2010.
Earlier Roman numerals were used to number photographs, images and tables; however, that scholarly practice no longer exists, and the use of Roman numerals is limited to identify sovereigns (for example - King James V) and popes.
Try and avoid the usage of words such as billion, trillion and quadrillion, as these words are interpreted differently in different countries.
If your coursework is not very scientific or technical in nature, then it is best to use words for numbers, especially for numbers less than a hundred. If you have to start a sentence with a numeral, then use words instead of numbers, and this holds true even for scientific writings. If you have to use symbols such as percentage in your text, then express it as words in text (for example - 10 percent) and use symbols in tables and illustrations (example-10%).

When to Use Tables and Illustrations in Your Coursework

Tables and illustrations are a smart way of making your writing accurate as well as interesting. This is especially true as tables and illustrations, when used appropriately, help you facilitate interesting breaks between texts. Moreover, tables and illustrations also facilitate readers with variation and incite interest in the mind of readers.
Tables and illustrations capture readers' interest and hence should be used by writers to stress on very important points. Writers should employ tables and illustrations to convey information and data in a clear, concise as well as precise manner. However, while using tables and illustrations, it is important that you ensure that they are adding value to your coursework. Do not use table or illustration at the end of your writing as it gives the impression to the reader that these elements were added as a mere afterthought for decoration. In fact, it is best to plan the position of these elements at the time of strategizing the whole coursework.
Also avoid the mistake that majority of the students commit; do not repeat the same information in words as well as tables or illustrations. Instead, analyze the information on data that you want to convey in your coursework, and then determine on the best way to express it. In simple terms, depending on the purpose as well as the type of the information, present it either in the form of a table or illustration or words.
When using tables, always ensure that they are appropriately numbered. Also arrange the table in such as a way on the paper that the table or illustration fits upright and that the reader need not rotate the page to view it comfortable. It is also crucial that you reference the table at least once in your text, as it emphasizes on the significance of the table or illustration in your coursework. It is highly recommended that you prepare the table or illustration beforehand, i.e., before you start writing your text. This is especially important as it will help you reference it in your text, and then will help you avoid repetition of information in the text.

How to Use Tables and Illustrations in Your Coursework

Tables are used in academic writing to be of help for referencing data or information and more often than not the data or numbers are arranged in columns. It is best to use tables of same type or formatting throughout your coursework as it helps maintain consistency in your work. If you have more columns to include in a table, then it is best to position your table in a landscaped paper, as it will not only ensure that all your columns are included in the table, but will also ensure that the entire table is in a printable area. Needless to mention, all the content within your table should be aligned appropriately and should be with clear demarcations.
You can improve the clarity of tables paying due attention to their size, complexity and organization. You must also pay close attention to the captions and text descriptions of the tables while referencing these in the text.

When and How to Use Other Illustrative material

Illustrative materials such as graphs, pie charts, diagrams, photos and maps help students to convey ideas and points in a clear, precise and effective manner. Needless to mention, words cannot help readers with such a clear understanding of the point at all. However, while including these illustrative material, and this holds true even for tables, ensure that these illustrations complement your writing in coursework rather than duplicating it. The illustrations should also be relevant to the discussion in the coursework. While including these illustrations, you should cautiously place them as close to the correlated point in the text. Students should refer illustrations such as graphs, maps and diagrams as 'Figures', illustrations such as Tables and charts as 'Tables' and images and photographs as 'Plates'.
Last but not the least; for the illustrations to complement your coursework, you should ensure that the illustrative material used by you is large enough, comprehensible, intelligible, self-contained and easily identifiable.
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