Re: Table layout - Which way is best?

Subject: Re: Table layout - Which way is best?
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 11 May 2015 13:31:57 -0400

If this is the presentation of a drawing, and the items pertaining to it are numbered in the drawing, and each item is identified in a list below the drawing, I can see that William's preferred vertical approach is correct, because the reader takes this action:

1. See item in drawing
2. Observe item number.
3. Find item, in numerical order in the list.

The two-column presentation is aesthetically appealing if the drawing is more twice as wide as the widest name in the list.

The horizontal approach makes sense only if the list is to be maintained automatically, and the automatic method is unable to deal with producing the vertical approach. This method would be correct only if the list were (1) frequently modified and (2) infrequently read. The "infrequently read" approach to documentation is generally assumed to apply to ships, where the manuals are expected to weigh some small fraction of the ship's total tonnage, but rarely, if ever, to acquire eyetracks upon the pages.


On Mon, 11 May 2015 12:08:21 -0400, Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com> wrote:

I wouldn't use a table for that since the rows and columns don't
represent relationships among the items. It's just a lot of
time-consuming formattting that conveys no information.

To consolidate the list when the list items are short, you could use
multiple columns.

Consolidating a list by putting multiple list items on each line
instead looks amateurish to me.

If a style guide addressed that, I'd expect it to be covered under
lists, not tables.

On Mon, May 11, 2015 at 3:38 AM, William Sherman
<bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com> wrote:
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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Follow-Ups:

References:
Not content with the definitions for "content": From: Tony Chung
Table layout - Which way is best?: From: William Sherman
Re: Table layout - Which way is best?: From: Robert Lauriston

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