Difference Between Classification and Tabulation

Classification vs Tabulation

Both classification and tabulation are methods of summarizing data in statistics, which makes further analysis of data to draw inferences from the data. In this article, we will discuss in detail the two methods of summarizing the data and distinguish between classification and tabulation of data.

What is Classification of Data?

In statistics, classification is the process of separation of data into several classes or groups using properties in the data set. For example, the mathematics test results of a class can be separated into two groups using gender. Such a classification condenses the raw data into suitable forms for statistical analysis and removes complex data patterns and highlights the core representatives of the raw data. After classification, comparisons can be made, and inferences can be drawn. Classified data can also provide relationships or correlative data patterns.

Raw data are classified using four key characteristics, such as geographical, chronological, qualitative, and quantitative properties. Consider a data set gathered for analysis of income of workers around the world. For example, the income of an average worker can be classified based on the country of the worker, where geographic factor is the metric for classification. It can also be classified based on the chronological properties such as age of the worker. The profession of each worker also provides a qualitative base for classification and the salary ranges can be used as a quantitative base for classification.

What is Tabulation of Data?

In statistics, tabulation is a method of summarizing data, using a systematic arrangement of data into rows and columns. Tabulation is carried out with the intention of carrying out investigation, for comparison, to identify errors and omissions in data, to study a prevailing trend, to simplify the raw data, to use the space economically and use it as future reference.

Generally a statistical table has following components.




  Title is a brief and clear explanation of  the contains of the table   

Table Number

  A number is assigned to a table for easy identification when many tables are included.


  Date of the creation of the table should be indicated

Row Designations

  Each row of the table is given a brief name, usually provided in the first column. Such a name is known as a “stub”, and the column is known as the “stub column” 

Column Headings

  Each column is given a heading to explain the nature of the figures included in each column. Such names are known as “captions” or “headings”.

Body of the table

  Data is entered into the main body and should be created for easy identification of each data items. Numeric values are often ordered in either ascending or descending order.

Unit of Measurement

  The unit of measurement of the values in the table body should be indicated.


  The tables should provide the primary and secondary sources for the data below the body of the table.

Footnotes and References

  Addition details for clarifying the contents of the table.

Based on the purpose tables can be classified into three main categories.

What is the difference between Classification and Tabulation?

• In classification, data are separated and grouped based on a property of the data common to all values.

• In tabulation, data is arranged into columns and rows based on characteristics/properties, or indicators.

• Tabulation often emphasize on the presentation aspects of the data, while classification is used as a means of sorting of data for further analysis.