Could you please show me how to improve the table below? In particular:

1) is it correct to put the "(%)", in the caption? Otherwise how could I point out that the numbers of the table are percentages?

2) is it correct to put the additional column header before the row "Corporate"?

3) How to better distribute colums?

enter image description here

The LaTeX code to obtain the table is this:

\captionsetup[table]{position=above, belowskip=10pt}


    \caption{Weights (\%) depending upon ratings in the Standardise Approach of Basel II}
        & \multicolumn{6}{c}{{\footnotesize{}Rating\tnote{a}}}\tabularnewline   
        {Category of claims} & {AAA to AA-} & {A+ to A-} & {BBB+ to BBB-} & {BB+ to B-} & {Below B-} & {Unrated}\tabularnewline
        {Sovereigns} & {0} & {20} & {50} & {100} & {150} & {100}\tabularnewline
        {Non-central government PSEs (option 1)} & {20} & {50} & {100} & {100} & {150} & {100}\tabularnewline
        {Non-central government PSEs (option 2)} & {20} & {50} & {50} & {100} & {150} & {50}\tabularnewline
        {MDBs} & {20} & {50} & {50} & {100} & {150} & {50}\tabularnewline
        {Banks (option 1)} & {20} & {50} & {100} & {100} & {150} & {100}\tabularnewline
        {Banks (option 2)} & {20} & {50} & {50} & {100} & {150} & {50}\tabularnewline
        {Banks (option 2 - short-term claims)} & {20} & {20} & {20} & {50} & {150} & {20}\tabularnewline
        &  &  & \multicolumn{2}{r}{{BBB+ to BB-}} & {Below BB-} & \tabularnewline
        {Corporate} & {20} & {50} & \multicolumn{2}{r}{{100}} & {150} & {100}\tabularnewline
        \item [a] \footnotesize{}The rating notations are by Standard \& Poor's but only for example,
        those of some other credit assessment institutions could be used. \\
        \footnotesize{}\emph{Source}: based on BCBS (2006).

  • 1
    Do you mean improving the LaTeX code or the principles of typesetting tables? At last it depends on the situation, which language, scientific paper, any rules given by the prof and how are you used to write numbers with units? 10 % is a number with unit and so the number should not be written without unit (in your table you it seems not possible to add [%] mentioning that the unit for the column is %.
    – Mensch
    Apr 30 '16 at 0:02
  • Thank you for your interest, Kurt. I'm writing my thesis. For point 1) and 2) I mean the principles of typesetting. I have no particular rules given by my prof but I have written all the other tables of my thesis with numbers without units (putting the unit in the column headers). For point 3) I intend improving the LaTeX code, for example there is too much space between the 3rd and the 4th column of the table.
    – CarLaTeX
    Apr 30 '16 at 5:50
  • 1
    Why is this asked here and not in Tex.SE?
    – joojaa
    Apr 30 '16 at 11:01
  • 3
    Point 1 and 2 are related to general typesetting rules, I could have asked them even if I had used Word. For point 3 I could ask to TeX SE.
    – CarLaTeX
    Apr 30 '16 at 12:12

You asked:

  1. is it correct to put the "(%)", in the caption? Otherwise how could I point out that the numbers of the table are percentages?
  2. is it correct to put the additional column header before the row "Corporate"?
  3. How to better distribute colums?

Well, at last it depends on the used language for the document (you seems to be a German) and the rules for the used typography in this language. Please have a look to this question for relevant books or papers.

Answers to your questions:

  1. I'm used to write tables with the relevant units in the column header, so in your case that should be your column header [%]. I have a little problem to understand your table: your main column heading is Ratings and then you show for example unrated [%]. But the given numbers 150 or 100 seems to mean 150% or 100%. And there is no possibility to have sums of columns or rows resulting in 100%. So I'm not sure where to place the unit unmissunderstandable ...
  2. The additional column header marks a new table in my opinion. So I would write for example two tables 1a and 1b to show that there is an break in the headings. Remember: A thesis should be unmissunderstandable and so it is better to reference situation 1 in table 1a and situation 2 in table 1b. And do not forget to reference each table for minimum one time!
  3. A table should be as symetric as it can be. So if you have numbers inside make the columns as wide as needed and as narrow as possibe. That could result in setting the header of the columns turned for 90 degree or less. If possible use short, but understandable headings and omit line breaks inside. If you need to have linebreaks break the line where it makes sense : Donaudampfschiffahrts-gesellschafts-kapitänsmütze (German example). Then keep the numbers centered vertically in the cell.

Do not use lines if possible, use better two different colors to mark columns or rows.

If your headings are too long you can define abreviations (and add them to your glossary!) before you reference the table the first time. Try to have the table in the same font size your document is. If needed use not too small font size for the table ...

At last can you explain your table a little bit? I'm really not sure how to write your unit % in it ...

  • I assumed my misunderstanding of the columns and units was just unfamiliarity with the subject (and a search for 'Standardised Approach Basel II' shows some very similarly set up tables)
    – Cai
    Apr 30 '16 at 22:54
  • Thank you @Kurt, I have already replied in chat but I add a comment also here for completeness. The numbers in the table are weights applied to the value of banks' assets before applying the 8% of regulatory capital requirement. For example, if a bank has a 100 € claim vs. a goverment rated below B-, it has to put apart 100€*150% (the weight)*8% = 12€ of capital (according to Basel II rules).
    – CarLaTeX
    May 1 '16 at 8:12
  • 1
    P.S. = at the end I think the solution "tables 1a and 1b" is the best.
    – CarLaTeX
    May 1 '16 at 8:16

First of all, check if there are any preferred style guides you should be following. If there are, there should be guidelines for the use of tables and units etc.

With regards to the units—I don't see any problem with stating the unit in the caption, but I would personally declare it in the column header. If the columns used different units, you would declare the unit in the header for that column. Since the whole table uses the same units you can declare it in the "Rating" header. The closer to the value you declare the units the better.

I personally don't like tables without anything differentiating the columns or rows—it isn't good for usability. I would add borders to the columns and rows, making use of thinner or lighter borders.

Another thing to keep in mind is the row heights. Varying row heights when the actual values are all the same height can be confusing. Try and keep the row labels on one line, use abbreviations or shorter terms if possible.

The breaks in the column header should be consistent too. If you can't avoid the line-breaks, manually break in a consistent way. I would break before the "to" in each header.

Something like this:

column and row borders added

An alternatives to borders is using alternating backgrounds:

row background used instead of borders

Compare the first example with the original row labels:

enter image description here

This, in my opinion, isn't as readable and looks untidy. If you can't shorten the row labels and keep them on one line, another option is to increase all the row heights to fit the largest label, keeping a consistent height and vertically centering the cell content. The following example looks a lot better but takes up a lot more page space:

enter image description here

With regards to the additional columns—Adding the additional column headers before the "Corporate" row is a perfectly acceptable solution. Wether it is the best option depends on the situation. If you have a lot of horizontal space to work with it may be better to have all the columns span the whole table:

enter image description here

How to do any of this in LaTeX I have no idea... You would be better asking that on LaTeX Stack Exchange. It's also worth noting that I have no idea what any of this data means so there may be some data-specific details I'm missing or getting wrong.

  • Thank you for your extremely detailed answer, unfortunately I haven't enough reputation to upvote it. The thesis guidelines of my university do not tell anything about tables. The ratings are AAA, BBB, etc. while the numbers in the tables are the weights, that's why I haven't put the "(%)" in the "Rating" header. LaTeX purists don't like vertical borders, however you gave me some very useful ideas: the abbreviations, the breaks in the column header, the same height for all the rows, the example with all the columns that span the whole table... Don't worry, I think I can do it myself in LaTeX.
    – CarLaTeX
    Apr 30 '16 at 21:07
  • No problem at all. The horizontal borders are the most important IMO. Following the columns down is easy with the small vertical space between cells—rows on the other hand are harder to distinguish (in this case at least).
    – Cai
    Apr 30 '16 at 21:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.