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Succeed with maths: part 2
Succeed with maths: part 2

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4.1 Reading a table

Before you go on to use the information in the table, here is a summary of the steps in reading a table:

  • Read the title.
  • Examine the column and row headings, particularly the units used.
  • Check that you understand the meaning of any symbols or abbreviations.
  • Extract the information you need from the main body of the table.

Now you’ve looked at how to go about understanding a table, try this activity for yourself, bearing in mind what you learned in the last section.

Activity 6 Employment in the Irish tourist industry

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes
Table 9 Employment in the Irish tourist industry (numbers employed by sector)
Sector/year20092010% ± (2009–2010)
Hotels52 30846 373–11
Guest houses19311812–6
Bed and breakfastsn/a3937
Self-catering accommodation30582426–21
Restaurants41 04938 657–6
Non-licensed restauruants16 13414 336–11
Licensed premises59 98351 693–4
Tourism services and attractions31 44918 702n/a Footnotes   *
Totaln/a177 935
(Fáilte Ireland, 2011)


Note: percentages have been rounded.


Footnotes   *Not all of the sectors included in 2009 are included in the 2010 survey

The table above is the same table you saw on the previous page. Use it to answer the following questions:

  • a.How many people were employed in Guest houses in Ireland in 2009?

    (Click on reveal comment if you would like a hint to get going)


Look down the first column for the sector and along this row until you reach the correct year.


  • a.Going across the row marked ‘Guest houses’ and down the column headed ‘2009’ shows that 1931 people were employed in guesthouses in 2009.
  • b.Why do you think that there is no total for 2009?

    Look carefully at all the data in this column.


  • b.In the column for 2009, the number of people employed in bed and breakfast accommodation was not available (‘n/a’), so the overall total cannot be found.
  • c.Which type of premises employed the highest number of people in 2010?


  • c.Going down the column for 2010, the highest number (apart from the total) is 51 693. So, licensed premises employed the highest number of people in 2010.
  • d.What type of premises has shown the largest percentage decrease between 2009 and 2010?

    When calculating the percentage, think carefully about what you have been asked to work out – which value is the original value that you are comparing the decrease to?


  • d.The largest percentage decrease is 21 per cent, for self-catering accommodation.

The values in this table were neither very large nor very small. If this was the case it can make a table hard to read. You could, of course, use scientific notation instead, as you learned about in Week 5, but not everybody will understand this way of representing numbers. So you need another way to present these types of numbers clearly for the reader. This is the subject of the next section.