Using Tables and Diagrams

Tables and Diagrams Tables are supposed to be a set of facts, figures or information systematically displayed, typically in columns and rows.

A defining feature of tables is that they are generally summative in nature and the text contained within them is succinct and to the point. They do not typically contain essay type paragraphs in the cells.

It is not acceptable to write a large piece of text and place a border around it and call it a table simply to evade the word count limit. For example:

Also an assignment should not be a disjointed collection of tables. The table should be summative in nature and be supported by text above and below which may contain a general discussion and some conclusions. For example:

It is important for managers to understand that communication methods have different features and benefits and what these might be. The Shannon and Weaver (1949) model of effective communication highlights the importance of feedback to correct misunderstandings and the need to avoid communication barriers whether physical or cultural. The table below summarised these issues for a variety of different communication methods:

As we can conclude from the above table understanding the pros/cons of communication methods will help us choose the correct method for type/purpose of our message and audience and be more effective communicators.

 See also for more help on this

Large tables

Sometimes we need to use a table to convey larger more complex information. Perhaps an evaluation or assessment of a system or business model and to do so in an essay format would result in a lengthy complex document.

The next example shows a table which effectively summarises a good deal of information.

It presents the stages of the consulting cycle, core activities at each stage and the benefits to the parties of each stage.

Presenting these facts by writing in essay text format would have used much more word count.

But note how the style of writing in the cells is still succinct and summative in nature. It is not long winded, descriptive or consisting of sentences and paragraphs.

Using other people's tables

Sometimes you may use or reproduce a table of data that has been compiled by another source.

This can be a difficult area and can lead to accidental plagiarism.

It is acceptable to reproduce a summative table, perhaps showing top ten reasons for using consultants, or financial facts and figures, if you are using it as a set of facts to support an argument you go on to make in the body of your assignment.

However YOU MUST acknowledge the source of the table UNDERNEATH the table and give credit in your referencing section at the end of the assignment. If there is no referencing then it is plagiarism.

For example:

Table 2 How to define a table viewed at

What it NOT acceptable and is PLAGERISM is to copy a large textual table that explains or describes something and to use the table to become your own explanation or analysis. This is plagiarism even if you quote the source because:

you are stealing someone else's intellectual property, conclusions or thoughts on a topic

by default you are representing these as your own

An example might be copying a substantial text table from one of your workbooks or a text book that describes a business model or the advantages and disadvantages of communication methods.

You tutor will not consider this an acceptable practice even if you have referenced the table. Your tutor needs to assess your work not someone else's.

Just changing a few words is not sufficient either so please refer to general guidance on plagiarism and paraphrasing.


The same rules apply to diagrams. YOU MUST acknowledge the source of the diagram UNDERNEATH it and give credit in your referencing section at the end of the assignment. If there is no referencing then it is plagiarism.

Similarly any attempts to use software to convert tables or text into a picture to avoid word count will not be regarded as acceptable practice.

Last modified: Tuesday, 1 March 2016, 9:24 AM