What is the Meaning of Tabulation?

Tabulation refers to the system of processing data or information by arranging it into a table. With tabulation, numeric data is arrayed logically and systematically into columns and rows, to aid in their statistical analysis. 

The purpose of tabulation is to present a large mass of complicated information in an orderly fashion and allow viewers to draw reasonable conclusions and interpretations from them.

What are the Essential Parts of a Table?

To tabulate data correctly, one must learn about the eight essential parts of a table. These are as follows – 

  1. Table Number – 

This is the first part of a table and is given on top of any table to facilitate easy identification and for further reference.

  1. Title of the Table – 

One of the most important parts of any table, its title is placed on top of the same and narrates its contents. It is imperative that the title be brief, crisp and carefully-worded to describe the tables’ contents effectively.

  1. Headnote –

The headnote of a table is presented in the portion just below the title. It provides information about the unit of data in the table, like “amount in Rupees” or “quantity in kilograms”, etc.

  1. Column Headings or Captions – 

Captions are the portion of the table on top of each column which explains the figures under each column.

  1. Row Headings or Stubs – 

The title of each horizontal row is called a stub.

  1. Body of a Table – 

This is the portion that contains the numeric information collected from investigated facts. The data in the body is presented in rows which are read horizontally from left to right and in columns, read vertically from top to bottom.

  1. Footnote – 

Given at the bottom of a table above the source note, a footnote is used to state any fact that is not clear from the table’s title, headings, caption or stub. 

For instance, if a table denotes the profit earned by a company, a footnote can be used to state if said profit is earned before or after tax calculations.

  1. Source Note – 

As its name suggests, a source note refers to the source from where the table’s information has been collected.

An Illustration of Proper Tabulation of Data – 

Following is a table illustrated to represent the total number of boys and girls in classes V, VI and VII in XYZ School.

Table Number – 1

Gender-Wise Distribution of Students in Classes- V, VI and VII of XYZ School

(Head Note)





















  • Footnote

  • Source

Such classification and tabulation of data facilitates comparison and statistical analysis and propagates easy decision making.

What are the Objectives of Tabulation?

Tabulation essentially bridges the gap between the collection of data and analysing them. The primary objectives of tabulation can be encapsulated below – 

  • For Simplification of Complex Data – 

When any information is tabulated, the volume of raw data is compressed and presented in a much more simplified manner. This facilitates easy comprehension and analysis of previously complex data.

  • To Highlight Important Information – 

Representing any data in tabular form increases the scope to highlight important information. Since data is presented in a concise manner without any textual explanation, any crucial information is automatically highlighted without difficulty. 

  • To Enable Easy Comparison – 

When data is presented in an orderly fashion in rows and columns, it becomes easier to compare between them on the basis of several parameters. 

For example, it becomes easier to determine the month when a country has received the maximum amount of rainfall if the data is presented in a table. Otherwise, there always remains room for making a mistake in processing the data correctly.

  • To Help in the Statistical Analysis of Data – 

Statistical analysis involves the computing correlation, average, dispersion, etc. of data. When information is presented in an organised manner in a table, statistical analysis becomes a lot simpler. 

  • Saves Space

Even though it might not seem as important as the other objective of tabulation, saving space without sacrificing the quality of data can be extremely helpful in the long run. Additionally, a table helps to present facts in a much more concise manner than page after page of text.

These are the five most important objectives of tabulating data.

How is Data Tabulation Executed?

Tabulating data can be carried out manually or with the help of a computer. Mostly, the execution of data tabulation depends on the cost, type and size of the study, availability of computers, time at disposal and such other factors. 

If tabulation is carried out in a computer, the answers are converted in numeric form. Whereas in the case of tabulation by hand, one can utilise lists, tally, card sort and count methods.

These are as explained as follows – 

  • Direct Tally Method –

Here codes are first written down in tally sheets. Then a stroke is marked against codes to denote response. After every fourth stroke code, the fifth response is given by putting a horizontal or diagonal line through the stroke.

  • Card Sort and Count Method – 

This is perhaps the most efficient hand tabulation method. Here the data is recorded in cards of various sizes and shapes with the help of a series of holes. Next, cards belonging to each of the categories are segregated and counted, and their frequency is recorded. This way, a total of 40 items can be included in a single page.

  • List and Tally Method – 

With this method, a large number of questionnaires are listed in one sheet. The responses to each question are then entered into rows, and the code corresponding to each question is represented in columns.

These are the categories of tabulating data by hand.

Types of Tabulation – 

Generally, tabulation can be classified into two types – simple and complex tabulation.

  • Simple Tabulation

This is the process of tabulation through which information regarding one or more independent questions is illustrated. It is also known as one-way tabulation. Following is an example of this category of tabulation – 

Grades Obtained

Number of Students

A+ (above 80)


A (70-80)


B (60-70)


C (50-60)


D (40-50)


Below 40


  • Complex Tabulation

These are the types of tables which represent the division of data into two or more categories based on two or more characteristics. This type of data tabulation can be divided into three types. These are – 

  1. Two Way Tables – These tables illustrate information collected from two mutually dependent questions. For instance, say that a table has to illustrate the highest population in different states of India. This can be done in a one-way table. But if the population has to be compared in terms of the total number of males and females in each state, it will require a two way table.

  2. Three-Way Table – Like the above mentioned category, three-way tables illustrate information collected from three mutually dependent and inter-related questions.

Let us take the above example and elaborate on that further with another category added to the table – the position of literacy amongst the male and female population in each state. The tabulation for these categories has to be put down in a three-way table.

  1. Manifold Table – These tables are utilised to illustrate information collected from more than three interrelated questions or characteristics.

What are the Rules of Tabulation?

There are a few general rules that have to be followed while constructing tables. These are – 

  • Tables illustrated should be self-explanatory. Even though footnotes form a part of tables, they should not be mandatory to explain the meaning of the data presented in a table.

  • If the volume of information is substantial, it is best to put them down in multiple tables instead of a single one. This reduces the chances of mistakes and defeats the purpose of forming a table. However, each table formed should also be complete in itself and serve the purpose of analysis.

  • The number of rows and columns should be kept minimal to present information in a crisp and concise manner.

  • Before tabulating, data should be approximated, wherever necessary.

  • Stubs and captions should be self-explanatory and should not require the help of footnotes to be comprehended.

  • If certain positions of data collected cannot be tabulated under any stub or captions, they should be put down in a separate table under the heading of miscellaneous.

  • Quantity and quality of data should not be compromised under any scenario while forming a table.

These are but a few important rules of tabulation. To learn more about tabulation, its application and importance refer to Vedantu’s study material and enrol in our live online classes today!

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Tabulation?

According to the tabulation definition, it is the systematic presentation of data in the form of horizontal rows and vertical columns to propagate statistical analysis through their comparison. Tabulation helps to present data in a much more compact and organised format and eliminates the room for mistakes common with a textual presentation of data.

2. What Are The Different Types of Tabulation?

There are two types of tabulation methods – simple tabulation and complex tabulation. Complex tabulation further has three types – two-way table, three-way table, and manifold table.