Thursday, February 28, 2013

Using Tables to Present Complex Ideas

When we try to explain a complex idea in writing, we often find it difficult to do so in a way that will be clear to the reader. In the February issue of the Michigan Bar Journal (p. 44), We get a valuable suggestion from John Strylowski, a veteran at writing and reviewing regulations and directives of federal agencies.  He suggests using tables:

 A table diagrams a complex idea and helps your readers understand the relationships between its various parts. By breaking your idea down into its parts and clearly labeling them, a table

helps your reader to more easily grasp what you’re saying. Tables have these advantages over text:

• They allow your readers to scan your material and go quickly

to what they need to know.

• They make it easier for your readers to see the underlying

structure of your material.

• They usually use fewer words than text alone.

• They help you, the drafter, to spot flaws in your own logic.

The article offers several illustrations of helpful tables.


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