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

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4.3 Constructing your own tables

As tables are a good way to show data, you may well come across situations where you will need to construct your own. This will be useful, not only in many areas of study but also at work or home. You might, for example, decide you want to show your monthly energy use over a year.

The first step is to decide how to sort the data into categories to stress the points you wish to make. For example, you may have collected data from a group of people that included their age.

Should you divide this into ‘under 25’, ‘25–40’ and ‘over 40’? Your choice of category would depend on the kind of data that you have and what you want to show.

The next would be to work out from this categorisation how many rows and columns you need and how to label these clearly. You may also have to consider what the best way to show the data is – do you have any very small or very large numbers, for example?

In this next activity the categories have already been decided for you, what you need to do is try and present the collected data in a much easier way to understand.

Activity 8 More about tourists

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

The manager of a small Irish hotel has guests of different ages and nationalities. They would like to know what kinds of guests visit their hotel, so they decide to summarise this information in a table.

The categories they used for the data were: child (under 16), adult (16–60) and senior (over 60); and the nationalities Irish (Ir), British (B), mainland European (E) and the rest of the world (W).

The following data were collected. The number and letter combinations represent the age and nationality of the visitors.

Table 11 Hotel guest data
16E 7B 24Ir 26Ir 46Ir 43Ir 5Ir
50W 55W 13Ir 13B 15Ir 61B 8Ir
37W 48E 8Ir 62B 49E 6W 55Ir
11Ir 9Ir 12B 62W 65B 65B 67Ir
13W 12W 54B 72Ir 61Ir 48B 61W
15B 62Ir 67E 10W 27B 12Ir 31B
35W 8W 42B 43B 15W

Construct a blank table with a title, the source of the data and clear column and row headings corresponding to the categories above. Also include totals for each column and row.

The data probably looks quite confusing – take your time and work methodically through the data to make sure you don’t miss any!

The title, column and row headings should make it clear to the reader what information is contained in the table – so think carefully about these.


To count the data in each category you could use a tally system. You may be familiar with tallying as representing sets of 5, with 4 slashes and a diagonal line across these, making what looks like a gate. This is known as a tally.


The final table should look something like this. It is fine if you have put the rows and columns the other way round.

Table 12 Origin and age categories of hotel guests
Nationality Child Adult Senior Total
Irish 8 5 4 17
British 4 6 4 14
Mainland European 0 3 1 4
Rest of the world 6 4 2 12
Total 18 18 11 47

Note that the two totals for nationality and age should agree, so it is useful to work out both as a check.

Hopefully, you agree that the table you constructed was much easier to understand and to find the information from than the raw, unordered data from the hotel manager.