# Can I use a single letter or symbol to represent “actual” in a table?

I have a chart that displays numbers for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, but the 2020 numbers are based on projections - I want to display the "actual" value on the data label next to the projected number - is there a single symbol or letter that I could use for this? Something so that it looks like:

3235 (my projected number)

a = 2887 (my actual number)

• I'm not quite clear on what you're asking. Are you trying a make a plot in a particular programming language? – abstrusiosity Nov 18 '20 at 22:36
• @abstrusiosity This might not be the right community for my question and my apologies if so - my question is simply about how I visually display my numbers (I already have them calculated). I just need to display the numbers 3235 and 2887, but I want it to be clear than 2887 is the actual number and 3235 is my projected number, without writing actual is 2887, projected is 3235. Does that make sense? – dwirony Nov 18 '20 at 22:43
• This probably isn't the best community. The answer really depends on specific format of your document and what your readers expect. You could always simply define your convention and use it consistently: e.g., Project (Actual), and then list 3235 (2887), 3752 (2945), 4567 (4986)... – abstrusiosity Nov 18 '20 at 23:35
• I wouldn't know where else to ask this question. While there is much mathematics going one here, statistics is in the end about numbers and data (and how to present them). There are quite some questions here about visualization. – Sextus Empiricus Nov 19 '20 at 8:02

If there is a symbol then it is likely not very commonly known. So in any case you have to explain it somewhere what the symbol means and it might confuse your readers.

However, if you have to plot multiple tables then it might be useful to abbreviate notation.

A possible way could be to use markers like an asterix $$^*$$ or other symbol that indicates a footnote.

For instance a table could look like

2017       3011
2018       2987
2019       3132
2020*      3235
2020**     2887


*Projected figure
**Current actual figure

Or like

2017       3011
2018       2987
2019       3132
2020*      3235 (2887)


*projected figure (current actual figure)

I often see tables with only the projected figure (and some marker and footnote to explain it is projected) but I admire your attempt to also show the current figure. An alternative could be

Year       Number of statisticians going crazy
2017       3011
2018       2987
2019       3132
2020*      3235


*projected figure based on current 2887 statisticians