space (perhaps because they were transferred in that form from
a spreadsheet), which gives the row numbers an uneven appear-
ance. By contrast, Table 7.2 has full and complete labels, in
clear fonts, which give all the missing information, and avoid
unnecessary abbreviation. Even the row labels are tidied up,
eliminating the ugly ampersand signs (&), which are not
needed, and printing each label within a single row.
Decimal points, index numbers and details in the data numbers.
Table 7.1 does not tell readers exactly what measurement units
are being used: in fact they are the numbers of eye cataract
operations per 1000 population. This gives large numbers,
stretching from 21,727 at the low end to 72,331 at the high
end. They are made less readable by not putting in commas to
separate the thousands, and also by citing the numbers correct
to two decimal points. Given the data range in Table 7.1,
including any decimal points at all is a ludicrous level of detail:
no reader would conceivably need to know this, so the decimal
points are just clutter, obfuscating whatever the table’s message
is supposed to be. By contrast, Table 7.2 eliminates all decimal
points and goes further by rebasing the index number to
cataract operations per 100,000 people. Most readers will find it
166 ◆AUTHORING A PHD
Argyll & Clyde 33212.42
Ayrshire & 33200.32
Dumfries & 31699.21
Forth Valley 29748.33
Western Isles 30840.19
Table 7.1 How health boards compare
(^1) Includes Berwick in 1997–98 only.
(^2) Estimates only due to data problems.