Table layout - Which way is best?

Subject: Table layout - Which way is best?
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 11 May 2015 06:38:28 -0400

At work, there have been a couple of people who have suddenly changed the directions of tables in our books.

Currently, we have a table that goes vertical in the first pair of columns, then vertical in the second pair of columns.

1 Main Body 4 Undercarriage
2 Work Access 5 Track System
3. Power Plant 6 Operator Cab

What they have done is go left right, then down.

1 Main Body 2 Work Access
3 Power Plant 4 Undercarriage
5 Track System 6 Operator Cab

Now on something short, probably most don't see an issue but several tables that we have like this has 30 or more items called out.

I have been trying to find something that gives a rule for this we can point to. I am sure I've heard of studies that down the first set, then down the second set (newspaper column style or regular multi-column style text) is the recommended and easiest to read, but I just can't find that now. Looking through Chicago Manual of Style, I'm apparently missing it if it is in there.

Searching tables styles or layouts on the Internet gets me a lot of furniture links.

Unfortunately, our style guide doesn't address this and I believe that they may decide to actually put this into the style guide, since one is a manger in another group.

Anyone have any links or references?

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