Learn how to create a 

Beautiful Table.

Let users see the numbers, clearly. 

What's new


What is the Beautiful Table?

Short: An alternative to the long data table, with some benefits.


When to use this short table?

Few, but relevant numbers: Here is a way to publish them in a great way.


Step-by-step tutorial

Based on a real-world example.

What's new?

The new "short table" in Datawrapper is internally named the "beautiful table". We think this will be a workhorse for all our users who publish data all the time. 

At first look the "short table" is just variation of the long data table we had as an option in Datawrapper from the very start. But before we show how to create one of these, let's briefly answer one question: When would you want to use a table?

The main reason why you would use a (long or short) table is that you enable the user to look up individual values. Often you should consider adding a table in a post where you already have a bar chart or line chart - adding the table with the actual data is then an added level of service. Or, as a variation, you have the fastest growing companies in the US in a big bar chart, then you can add a table showing key figures for the ten biggest gainers and the ten biggest losers. You get the idea.

Why the "Beautiful Table"?

The original data table has a number of nice features: It can be paginated, it can add a search box. But it was not designed to be a visual element.

This is what the  "short table" is for. Often the sources provide some very relevant numbers, but not enough to come up with a bar or line chart. Or, the numbers are mixed: Absolute spending and growth related to last year in percentages.  

Let us demonstrate, based on practical example: Our source is eMarketer . If you don't know them, you should. This is a great and consistent source of great data since the 90s (!), with daily updates and a huge database. They aggregate, make comparisons and must have millions of charts and tables by now. 

So, from a journalists perspective, this is what we get (as an example). The numbers here provide a very quick overview plus a comparison for year-over-year change about the ad spending in Sweden, 2014. The first column shows absolute numbers in billions of Swedish kronor, the second column show the change (+ or -) as a percentage. 

Source: eMarketer

Import the data

One shortcoming, of course: The visual above is static. So we either search for the data source or we simply take the time to manually put the values above into a spreadsheet. 

It would look like this, including the little stars which denote that there is a comment in the footer later for clarity:

[["Type","Ad Spending","% change vs. prior year"],["Digital*","10.7","16.3"],["TV**","5.8","0.1"],["Newspapers***","5.7","-9.8"],["Direct advertising","3.6","-4.3"],["Free newspapers","2.4","-0.9"],["Magazines***","1.5","-8.6"],["Outdoor","1.2","13.1"],["Radio","0.7","16.0"],["Print catalogs","0.2","-41.0"],["Cinema","0.1","15.7"],["In-store media","0.1%","12.6"],["Total","31.9","1.6"]]

Creating the table

We import the data into Datawrapper. Choose "Short Table" as the visualization type. 

You can tell from the Icons which is the "
Long Table" and the "Short Table".

That's basically all you need to do. 


Now, as always in Datawrapper, the options available for this type of visualization will change. We have a number of options which are unique for the short table. 

(1) Sort: This enables you to define which column is used for sorting. You can choose which column will be used for the initial sorting. 

(2) Make column sortable is an option we intentionally did not use in this example as we have a total at the bottom, which should stay there. If you click this option users can click on the headers to re-sort the table, which is nice for some data, just not this one in particular. 

(3) Highlight row: This is used to let a sum or "total" stick out. One additional option is to then make the text bigger in this specific row. 

(4) Highlight color: This will color little, indicative bars which provide a visual element in the table. 

The final table

With just a few steps we created a table which can be used in many occasions. We kind of overlooked the value of having this kind of table for a long time, thinking only about visuals. But, hopefully, many of our users will find this specific table very useful and quick to create. 

Tipp: You can simply copy the data from the little spreadsheet, copy it into Datawrapper and try to create this "beautiful table" in the next few minutes.

Our best guess is that for the heavy users of Datawrapper this new variation of the table will be a visualization type used time and time again.

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