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I'm wondering what the minimum amount of rows and cells (i.e. cells) for tables in a thesis is. That is, above which amount of cells should I switch from continuous text to tables. Obviously, it also depends to some degree on the size of the cells, i.e. the amount of text.

I currently have a table with two columns and four rows. The first column contains cells with one word each, the second column has cells with 2-4 words. It looks really dumb on paper, but I resist writing continuous text because there really isn't more to say on the four rows and it would sound "jerky".

  • Have you considered transposing your table or switching to a two-column layout? – Wrzlprmft Aug 14 '16 at 21:37
  • I wouldn't have thought of transposing. In this particular case however it doesn't work, the second column is clearly the description of the first. Also, the one column layout is prescribed by my university. Maybe I'll insert a figure side-by-side. – Juergen Aug 14 '16 at 21:41
  • In this particular case however it doesn't work, the second column is clearly the description of the first. – So? Do you expect anybody to be confused by that? – Wrzlprmft Aug 15 '16 at 5:42
  • By not working I meant it is much less intuitive. Think of my table as a dictionary data structure like Key: Value. I would never write the key below the value. I understand that in most cases transposing is an option, especially when working with numerical values but in my case the description definitely belongs next to the key. I hope this isn't even more confusing. – Juergen Aug 15 '16 at 18:47
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TBH, I never heard of such a minimum for rows, columns or cells for a thesis. I suppose it would be same for any other table.

If you really believe that the table doesn't look so neat with only a few columns for too many rows, then transposing the table would be a good idea (as @Wrzlprmft suggested). If the amount of data looks unworthy of being depicted as a table, then you may you any other sort of graphical presentation such as a chart. This might help you with more innovative ideas for presentation.

Having said the above, this really is a question for your thesis advisor and would depend on any guidelines referred by your institution on writing a thesis.

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  • Charts won't work because it's textual data. However, I'm going with the alternative graphical presentation "itemize" in LaTeX. – Juergen Aug 15 '16 at 18:50

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