For a paper I am writing, I need to name several combinations of things (specifically, certain combinations of mathematical equations/inequalities that impose specific constraints on certain variables). I thought of presenting this as a "binary table", like this for example:

Animal name Eyes Whiskers Fluffy tail Teeth
Goldfish Yes No No No
Cat Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shark Yes No No Yes
Worm No No No No

..and so on (please ignore any biological inaccuracies, I hope you understand my point). The field I am doing research in is rather maths-heavy (neuroimaging). Typical journals are NeuroImage, Human Brain Mapping, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, ...

  • Does this type of table have a name?
  • Would using "Yes" and "No" be appropriate? Or should I use ones and zeroes, or maybe dashes and asterisks? Or maybe just color the cell? Is there a canonical layout?
  • Could you perhaps provide me an example of how such tables are typically presented?
  • 1
    Your way of doing it is totally legitimate. You see such tables more often in the advertisements for credit cards, etc. than in the mathematical literature, but they aren't unheard of there (though the ones I remember now are from computer science for comparing the performance of algorithms). As long as you keep your table on a single page and don't resort to minuscule fonts in the cells, you can choose absolutely any way that clearly conveys the message. As to names, they are usually called Table 1, Table 2, etc. and referred to accordingly in the text.
    – fedja
    Aug 18, 2021 at 16:46
  • 4
    A black dot for "yes" and empty cell for "no" would probably be easier to read, and take up less space.
    – Louic
    Aug 19, 2021 at 13:29
  • 1
    @Louic Or checkmarks and crosses (could potentially be labeled green and red, respectively). In general, having some kind of graphical element to the table seems easier to read than just 'yes/no'.
    – Anyon
    Aug 19, 2021 at 14:07
  • 1
    Look at the journals that might publish your work to see how other papers format and label information of this kind. Aug 19, 2021 at 14:43
  • Just so it's said... Tables are a good, solid go-to for most data, but they aren't necessarily the best option. Generally speaking, you don't want to present raw data in a paper, you want to present analytical results, and choosing the best graphic representation for analyzed data is a bit of an art. You haven't really said much about your analysis, but if you're modeling constraints you might do better to create a line graph showing the various constraints, and position your animals spatially as points on the graph. But that's just a guess; give more detail and we can do better. Aug 19, 2021 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


You could call it a Boolean table -- this has a technical meaning in the computer engineering field, but it seems to be roughly equivalent to what you are doing.

  • Welcome to Academia.SE. Your post got flagged for being "not an answer", so I suggested an edit to the text to make it a bit more "answer-like." Feel free to make further edits (or even delete it) if you like, but it's important that only real answers go in the answer box.
    – cag51
    Aug 20, 2021 at 23:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .