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Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books
Example E: Tables


1. Simple Table
2. Complex Table

Simple Table



  • Tables should be presented as properly marked-up HTML tables, providing independent access to the data.
  • In this case, the caption and the question are included in the description.
  • Describing the table itself would be unnecessarily repetitive.


A student conducted a probability simulation by rolling a number cube that has each face marked with a number from 1 to 6. The results of his simulation are given in the table below:

Numbers Showing 1 2 3 4 5 6
Number of Times Rolled 7 6 8 12 1 6

Question: Based on the data shown in the table, what is the probability of rolling a number greater than 3?

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Complex Table

complex table


  • While this table is complex with several layers of headings, it can be broken into three separate tables under the headings: Motor vehicle traffic, Firearm suicide and Firearm homicides.
  • Providing three separate tables will aid in navigation and comprehension.
  • The table includes two reference notations: a hyphen representing Quantity zero and a superscript one indicating that SE stands for standard error. To avoid confusion in the tables below, the superscript one and the hyphen were simply replaced with the words "Quantity zero" and "standard error." This is an example of providing greater clarity as opposed to mimicking the exact visuals of the table.
  • If desirable, this complex table may also be replicated exactly through proper HTML coding.


Figure 9 is a table titled: Average annual weighted number of deaths and percent distribution of deaths by body region of injury, for motor vehicle traffic accidents, firearm suicides, and firearm homicides: United States 2003-2004.

For better navigation, the table has been separated into three tables.

Motor vehicle traffic
Body region Number of deaths Percent distribution Standard Error (percent)
Total 43,386 100.0 Quantity zero
Head and neck 13,862 32.0 0.3
Torso 7,382 17.0 0.3
Other specified 911 2.1 0.3
Spine, upper back 492 1.1 0.3
Extremities 410 1.0 0.3
Unclassifiable by body region 14,691 33.9 0.3
Unspecified 6,540 15.1 0.3

Firearm suicide
Body region Number of deaths Percent distribution Standard Error (percent)
Total 16,829 100.0 Quantity zero
Head and neck 12,428 73.9 0.3
Torso 2,211 13.1 0.5
Other specified 28 0.2 0.5
Spine, upper back 13 0.1 0.5
Extremities 14 0.1 0.5
Unclassifiable by body region 67 0.4 0.5
Unspecified 2,094 12.4 0.5

Firearm homicide
Body region Number of deaths Percent distribution Standard Error (percent)
Total 11,772 100.0 Quantity zero
Head and neck 3,714 31.5 0.5
Torso 4,005 34.0 0.5
Other specified 397 3.4 0.6
Spine, upper back 33 0.3 0.7
Extremities 363 3.1 0.6
Unclassifiable by body region 2,685 22.8 0.6
Unspecified 972 8.3 0.6
NOTE: See Appendix I, NVSS, Mortality Statistics for description of data sources and Appendix II, Multiple-cause-of-death data and injury diagnoses, for method to calculate annual weighted number of deaths; Standard error. See Tables III and IV for classification codes.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System.

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Funding for this project is provided by the National Science Foundation.