# What are some alternatives to presenting data instead of tables?

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:

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.

• 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 :) Oct 29 '13 at 4:04
• perhaps the answers to Putting a timeline for dates in moderncv could be helpful Nov 2 '13 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. Nov 2 '13 at 3:55

May be a classic schema:

Or a less classic schema:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{schemata}
\usepackage{amssymb}

\newcommand\SB[2]{\schema{\schemabox{#1}}{\schemabox{#2}}}

\begin{document}

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

\vspace{3cm}

\newcommand\TL[1]{\rule[.35ex]{#1mm}{.5ex}\hspace{-1ex}$\blacktriangleright$}

\SB{Time \\period \\and \\length}{
\SB{Short\\Run}{
$\bullet$ \SB{1 Day}{The first day and  something and something dummy text \ldots}\\
$\bullet\bullet\bullet\bullet\bullet$
\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}}
}

\end{document}


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

\documentclass[a4paper,12pt,oneside]{article}
\usepackage[left=2.5cm,right=2.0cm,top=2cm,bottom=2.0cm]{geometry}
\usepackage{HS}
\usepackage{ragged2e}
\usepackage{fourier}
\usepackage{tikz}
\usetikzlibrary{chains,shapes.arrows,fit}

\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

\pgfdeclarelayer{background}
\pgfsetlayers{background,main}

\tikzset{
inner/.style={
on chain,
circle,
inner sep=2pt,
fill=circlecolor,
line width=1.5pt,
draw=bordercolor,
text width=1.2em,
align=center,
text height=1.25ex,
text depth=0ex
},
on grid
}

\node[inner xsep=0pt] (c1) {\phantom{A}};
\else
\fi
\node[inner,font=\footnotesize\sffamily\color{textcolor}]
}

\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
\fi
\node[on chain] (f) {};
\begin{pgfonlayer}{background}
\node[
inner sep=10pt,
single arrow,
draw=none,
fill=arrowcolor,
fit= (c1) (f)
] (arrow) {};
\fill[white] % the decoration at the tail of the arrow
(arrow.before tail) -- (c1|-arrow.west) -- (arrow.after tail) -- cycle;
\end{pgfonlayer}
}

{\par\noindent\begin{tikzpicture}[start chain,#1]}
{\drawarrow\end{tikzpicture}\par}

\begin{document}
\begin{timeline}
\end{timeline}

\end{document}


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. Oct 29 '13 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 '13 at 4:24
• Where is \usepackage{HS}?
– user11232
Oct 29 '13 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 '13 at 10:50
• TeX.SX or SX.TeX? Oct 31 '13 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.

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.

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.

• +1 for any answer that manages to work in the Codex Seraphinianus! Nov 4 '13 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.

• To do it with LaTeX, look at How to draw a Sankey Diagram using TikZ Nov 4 '13 at 23:24
• I would have used a colormap for temperature instead of a separate plot, and different patterns for going forwards/backwards! :P Nov 7 '13 at 15:58

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

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


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