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I do not know if this the suitable forum for this question but I would like to give it a try.

In my thesis I have several very long tables that cover almost one page. Because of this I am getting into the problem of pagebreaks within the tables. I would like to know what you would consider to be typical in scientific contributions about how to handle this. As far as I see it, there are 3 options:

  1. Simply break the table and continue with the remainder on the following page
  2. Do not break the table and display the table as a whole --> This leads to huge empty spaces at the previous page
  3. Split a the table into two similar tables with different entries but with identical column names and headers. In this case I reckon that I should also use two headers for the table something like Table 2.1 and Table 2.2

Has someone of you encoutered this problem in a thesis or scientific paper? Of course, if you can think about other options,I'd be quite happy to hear about them.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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  • Are you typesetting your paper in Word or Latex? Mar 27, 2020 at 10:20
  • I use Word for typesetting
    – PeterBe
    Mar 27, 2020 at 10:57
  • Does your university have formal thesis formatting requirements? My masters had a 20 page table in an appendix, and my university's thesis format requirements were very strict on how it had to be formatted
    – anjama
    Mar 27, 2020 at 13:58
  • Hi Anjama. Unfortunately no. I have to decide this on my own. This is why I am asking
    – PeterBe
    Mar 27, 2020 at 13:59
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    Are you responsible for the final formatting, or are you just asking how best to format it for sending to journals and peer review? If the latter then large blank sections should be fine. Mar 27, 2020 at 14:40

2 Answers 2

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I would avoid breaking a table that does not need to be broken (that is less than a single page). It is much easier on the reader instead to have some blank space in the text and turn the page. This is especially true in a thesis, where there is strong emphasis on clarity over space economy. (Theses tend to have wider margins, spacing, etc. versus printed journals.) So, yes, a page break is much better than a table break.

You can just expect the reader to go to the next page(s). Does not need to be a facing page. That is fine for numbered figures, tables, etc. And basically required if you have text that discusses several figures or tables such that they can not all be easily embedded because of the number discussed in a small section of text. But after all, that is what the numbers are for!

I have even seen it acceptable to put all figures, tables, endnote citations, etc. at the end of the chapter. Similar to how you submit a journal article. Basically required in the typewriter era. And still acceptable when I wrote my thesis c. 2000. (And yes, using Word.)

Note: If you have tables in Word that cover more than a page, please DO turn on the Word feature that copies the header row to each new page. (Highlight the top row cells, right click...table properties, "row" tab, click the box that says repeat as header row.) It is also useful if you have bold or shading or the like to call out the header row of the table, so it is not confused as a data field.

Also if you do have tables breaking across pages, make sure you select the whole table and then DEselect (uncheck) the same-place row tab box that allows for rows to break on separate pages. Don't allow that. No, no, no. ;-)

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  • Thanks guest for your detailed answer. I am very thankful for the comment about Word :-). Regarding breaking the tables I would still favor in my case to break the tables, even if the do not necessarily have to be broken. The reason for that is that the empty space between the text and the table would be really really big on many pages which looks fairly bad according to my point of view. Breaking the tables seem better for me (altough this also does not look nice)
    – PeterBe
    Mar 27, 2020 at 16:54
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I suggest splitting the table (3) and suggest rotating the table and using facing pages, this aids your examiners, since they can see the whole table, having rotated their printed copy.

enter image description here

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  • Thanks for your comment user2768. Rotating the tables does not solve the problem. And I think that additionaly splitting them (while rotating them) looks really weird. Maybe I just can't imagine what you are suggesting.
    – PeterBe
    Mar 27, 2020 at 11:00
  • @PeterBe See the image I've added
    – user2768
    Mar 27, 2020 at 12:19
  • The OP has now mentioned they use Word, which probably makes achieving the above harder.
    – user2768
    Mar 27, 2020 at 12:25

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