Data is useful only if it can be arranged and presented in a way that makes sense to the user. Data representation on a report becomes more important when you have a lot of data to process and represent for the process of decision-making.
Summary and details dilemma
To be able to make informed decisions, you need data in the right detail. Here are some of the generally used data arrangements:
- Form based arrangement, where information is placed in any arrangement, side by side or one below other. This is good to give you ground level information. Generally found on operational reports / documents like cash memo, tickets, vouchers, salary slip, this arrangement will give you one unit of information per page.
- Tabular (also known as list or grid) arrangement is preferred when you want to have more units of information per page, where information about one unit will be arranged side by side. For example, list of employees for a department.
- Grouped is grid type of representation where information is arranged by a logical entity. For example, list of employees by arranged by departments. The information will be arranged / organized by departments. For example, department name, followed by list of employees in that department, then name of other department and like.
- Charts are best-to-use if you want to go for comparative analysis.
- Matrix is quite useful arrangement when you want to have bird’s eye view of large volume of data. You can have a matrix where on left side you can have Subscription Plan and on top you can have Region. The cell that is intersection of a Subscription plan and a region will have figure of total subscribers for that region and plan. So, you can have summary information in a very limited space.
More on Cross-tab
Cross-tab is a data-arrangement where headings are listed on the top and left. Summary data is placed in cells formed by intersection of respective row and column. For instance, an expenditure summary report (cross-tab arrangement) may look like this:
Figure 1: Cross Tab Arrangement
Cross-tabs can be very useful as input to create charts in spreadsheet software.
What is a summary field?
In the above table, the figures are summary fields. Figures indicate respective type of expenditure in a zone office. For example, Employee Welfare expenditure of Central Zone office is 1952. The figure in cell at the cross section of right-most column and last row displays total expenditure.
Generally, summary field is of number type. For example, sales amount, expenditure, salary, revenue, costing, etc. Example of cross-tab:
Production estimation by facility: that may include facility, product code, estimated production figures.
Weekly Rainfall forecast by region: that may include State / region, week number, rainfall figures.
Tip: You can place non-numeric field in summary and apply “count” function on it. For example, a cross-tab may display number of employees in a grade and in a department.
Setting up a Cross-tab
After placing a cross-tab control on a report, setting up a cross-tab is a three-step process:
- Get the data for cross-tab.
- Place right fields for column header, row header and summary.
- Apply formatting.