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The difference between data and information

Through the years, I have seen numerous reports that provided the reader with no useable information. Why you may ask? Because the report creator didn't understand the difference between data and information.

Data is a number; an answer; a disparate answer without focus or label. An example could be 7, apple, The Oscars.

Great, what does 7 mean? I know what an apple is, but what is the context?

Here's an example of a report, what's wrong with it?

Quantity      Item     Price    Amount

  5           Apple    $10.00     $ 50.00

  1           Banana   $20.00    $ 20.00

  2           Pear     $25.00      $ 50.00

Total                                   $120.00

What does this report show? Is it an Inventory Report?, a Sales Report?, a Purchase Order?, an Invoice?

You don't know because the all important LABEL is missing. Once the Label(s) are attached, the report is now information.

Inventory Report
As of 2/28/2013

Quantity      Item     Price    Amount

  5           Apple    $10.00     $ 50.00

  1           Banana   $20.00    $ 20.00

  2           Pear     $25.00      $ 50.00

Total                                   $120.00 

See the difference?!