There are 4 main types of notes that may need to be used at the bottom of a table, illustrated in the table below:
- Definitions of acronyms used in the table or table title. The first line of table notes should be any acronyms or abbreviations used in the table, listed alphabetically. Only include abbreviations for units of measurement if they are unusual or if your audience might not be familiar with them (eg km does not need to be defined; µg may need to be defined, depending on your audience). Use a spaced =, and a semicolon to separate multiple entries. There is no need for a full stop at the end:
CV = coefficient of variation; SD = standard deviation
- Explanation of something in the table or table title. The second line of table notes is explanations. These are indicated in the table by superscript letters (a, b, etc; see Body of the table). Under the table, list the letters (not superscripted), use a tab to separate the letter and note text, and start each note with a capital letter. Only insert a full stop at the end if the note is a full sentence or there is more than 1 sentence. Start each note on a new line:
a Laboratory D did not report results corrected for recovery. Results corrected for recovery were
calculated by the study coordinator.
b Preliminary results
- Other notes. The third line of table notes is additional information about the whole table, given as a general note. Use the word Note:. Start the note with a capital and end with a full stop (notes should be full sentences). For more than 1 note, use a numbered list, starting on the line underneath the word Notes:
Note: Data for January to February 2013 have not been included.
1. Several respondents commented that they don’t like broccoli or brussels sprouts.
2. The Cancer Council advises that eating 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day
reduces risk of developing cancer.
- Sources of information. The last line of table notes is the source(s) of information. To refer to the source of specific data within the table, use a superscript letter and a note, as described above. For the source of the whole table, use the word Source: and insert the citation. If the document uses author–date (Harvard) style citations, this will be the author name and date, with parentheses around the date:
Source: Smith et al (2005)
If the document uses numbered (Vancouver) citations, insert just the author name and a superscript reference number; do not include the date of the reference:
Do not put a full stop at the end of the source. If multiple sources have been used for the table, use Sources: and a comma between entries. List sources chronologically, not alphabetically:
Sources: Smith (2008), Nelson (2011)
All references in table notes should be cited in full in the reference list at the end of the document (see References). If the table is completely original and there is no need to include a source, leave out the source.
For a narrow table, contain the width of the definitions, notes and sources to the width of the table so that they do not extend beyond its right-hand edge.
Table definitions, notes and sources