A data table is a visual instrument comprised of labeled columns and rows, used to arrange information contained in a computer's database. It may serve to organize disparate data, as well as to permit data to be easily manipulated and analyzed. Data tables are commonly used in the process of financial analysis or as tools for traditional web design.
Data tables generally present numerical data inside of a grid format. However, they can also be used to present text, Internet hyperlinks, or even images.
Due to their orderly style of presentation, data tables are beneficial as information retrieval devices. Popular tax preparation software commonly relies on data tables to analyze liabilities and deductions. CEOs and financial managers frequently may often refer to a data table when performing a cost-benefit analysis, since it permits them to digest an array of data a quick glance.
More importantly, data tables are used in the field of accounting, allowing input values to be easily modified. Once changed, all affected data in the table will be instantly recalculated in order to reflect the change.
Two types of tables that are commonly used as tools for data analysis are one-variable data tables and two-variable data tables. Simple modifications in a data table can be accomplished by using a one-variable data table. By using this type of table, a user is able to modify a single variable within a formula, in order to understand how such a modification will affect the formula as a whole. For example, if a borrower is attempting to understand how interest rate increases may affect a credit card balance, he may use a one-variable table to alter the input value for the card's interest rate.
Comparably more complex modifications can be accomplished by using a two-variable data table. This type of table allows users to modify two input values within a formula. For example, if a sports aficionado desires to compare the performance of two baseball players on the basis of their walk-to-strikeout ratios, as well as their stolen base percentages, the two-variable table is capable of altering both of these input values at once.
Since data tables are created with the aid of computer technology, they often produce results that are more accurate than those produced via manual calculation. While they are similar to graphs employed in statistical analysis, data tables require little training to use. Similarly, they are relatively simple to read and to modify. Thus, they are popular tools that are used both by professionals as well as by laypersons.