What are some alternatives to representing tabular data? Currently, I am trying to construct a table but seeing as how, everyone in my class will be doing that, I want to stand out and I'm looking to do something that has the same effect but is different. Below is the general layout of the table that I currently have:

An example of the table I have

I was thinking about a timeline but I doubt it would fit all the information I wanna have.

EDIT: I notice this question has two close votes and I'm trying to understand the motivation behind them. I feel this question pertains to a good portion of individuals that may wish to know how to present their data in something other than a table.

  • 3
    I reckon something from the excellent smartdiagram package would work pretty well- there's a lot of examples to choose from and tweak in the manual :)
    – cmhughes
    Oct 29, 2013 at 4:04
  • perhaps the answers to Putting a timeline for dates in moderncv could be helpful
    – cmhughes
    Nov 2, 2013 at 3:50
  • Good point but this is more for an implementation style thing so that won't be as useful. The main issue with a timeline implementation is that it gives too much of a general picture which is not something I am looking for.
    – Jeel Shah
    Nov 2, 2013 at 3:55

5 Answers 5


May be a classic schema:


Or a less classic schema:





\SB{Time period \\and length}{
  \SB{1 Day}{The first day and \\ something and something \\ dummy text \ldots}\\\\\
  \SB{1 Week}{Begin}
  \SB{1 Month}{Then do\\ this}\\
  \SB{6 Months}{lalala}
\SB{Long Run}{
\SB{1 Year}{or something}}



\SB{Time \\period \\and \\length}{
 $\bullet$ \SB{1 Day}{The first day and  something and something dummy text \ldots}\\
  \SB{1 Week}{Begin}
\SB{Medium Run}{
  \TL{6}\SB{1 Month}{Then do this}\\
  \TL{31}\SB{6 Months}{lalala}
Long Run \TL{61}\SB{}{
\SB{1 Year}{or something}}


You could try a timeline like the diagram below (modified from another post on SX.TEX):

enter image description here


\definecolor{arrowcolor}{RGB}{201,216,232}% color for the arrow filling
\definecolor{circlecolor}{RGB}{79,129,189}% color for the inner circles filling
\colorlet{textcolor}{white}% color for the text inside the circles
\colorlet{bordercolor}{white}% color for the outer border of circles



\newlength\taskwidth% width of the box for the task description
\newlength\taskvsep% vertical distance between the task description and arrow




  on chain,
  inner sep=2pt,
  line width=1.5pt,
  text width=1.2em,
  text height=1.25ex,
  text depth=0ex
on grid

\node[inner xsep=0pt] (c1) {\phantom{A}};
  (c\the\numexpr\value{task}+1\relax) {#1};
  at (c\the\numexpr\value{task}+1\relax) {\task{#2}};

\newcommand\drawarrow{% the arrow is placed in the background layer 
                                                     % after the node for the tasks have been placed
  \node[on chain] (c1) {}; % if no \Task command is used, the arrow will be drawn
\node[on chain] (f) {};
  inner sep=10pt,
  single arrow,
  single arrow head extend=0.8cm,
  fit= (c1) (f)
] (arrow) {};
\fill[white] % the decoration at the tail of the arrow
  (arrow.before tail) -- (c1|-arrow.west) -- (arrow.after tail) -- cycle;

\newenvironment{timeline}[1][node distance=.6\taskwidth]
  {\par\noindent\begin{tikzpicture}[start chain,#1]}

\Task[1]{Short run\\ 1 days}
\Task[2]{1 week  \\ 10/10/2013}
\Task[3]{1 month \\ 3/10/2013}
\Task[4]{Technical Evaluation \\ 7/10/2013}
\Task[5]{Submittal Preparation \\ 17/10/2013}
\Task[6]{Submittal \\ 18/10/2013}
\Task[7]{Approval \\ 3/11/2013}
\Task[8]{Order\\ 5/11/2013}
\Task[9]{Delivery\\28 Feb 2014}


You can combine all in one, or have three one for short term, medium and long term, perhaps with color coding.

  • I considered this option but the issue here is that I can't add about 2-3 points on the timeline because there won't be enough space or it may look too cluttered.
    – Jeel Shah
    Oct 29, 2013 at 4:20
  • @gekkostate Thanks. That is why I suggested maybe have three. You can also vary the length this way to visually represent time. Oct 29, 2013 at 4:24
  • Where is \usepackage{HS}?
    – user11232
    Oct 29, 2013 at 7:03
  • @HarishKumar This is a private package, not needed for the example. I forgot to delete it when I posted the example. Oct 29, 2013 at 10:50
  • TeX.SX or SX.TeX? Oct 31, 2013 at 21:22

I am just adding another answer to the one I provided earlier as this takes a different view all together.

The best and most succinct way to express and visualize timelines are maths.

enter image description here

I am in agreement that presenting such data in a table is a horrendous idea. I also dislike the terms medium term, long term etc as a) they smell too much of enterprise talk and b) they remind me of 5 year and 10 year plans of economic committees in long forgotten and fallen Evil Empires.

I am not sure if a gantt chart is a better solution, as you have not added adequate detail, but you can also try pgfgantt.

Visualizations such as the one I provided help in viewing time dependent data at a glance. They can have many forms. Tufte's website is a good place to start. Here anything goes and is bounded only by imagination not code.

enter image description here

The image above is from the codex seraphinianus. It is a time line describing the transformation of a flowering plant to a flying machine in the medium to the long term. It comes with instructions. Let your imagination go wild.

  • 2
    +1 for any answer that manages to work in the Codex Seraphinianus!
    – Paul M.
    Nov 4, 2013 at 3:43

Sometimes called the greatest graph of all time, the 1812 march of Napoleon's Army to and from Moscow portrays the relationship of 6 variables (size of army, 2-D position of army, 2-D direction of movement, temperature) in a single graph.

A copy hangs in the hallway here at work. It inspires. Now how to do something similar in LaTeX, that is a different question.

enter image description here


You could have a sort of indented tree diagram, like the outline view of some word processors.

Short Run
  1 Day
  1 Week
Medium Run
  1 Month
  6 Months
Long Run
  1 Run

Horizontal rules (sparingly used) might help to structure such a diagram.

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