Table Generator Help

Table of Contents


Parts of the Table Generator window

How to move a pod

Other things to do with a pod

The parts of the table (the slots)

The significance of order within table dimensions

Table layout hints

Record selection

Selecting a range

Selecting specific values

Text string matching

Applying your selection

About term (semester) selection

Formatting variables

Record duplication

Table options

Excel output

Storing table layouts

Restoring saved layouts

Managing saved layouts

Data Dictionary

Table Generator Help


Table Generators are tools that allow users to access aggregate GVSU information over the internet.   Using a table generator, getting the information you want is a simple drag-and drop process, but the tool has the flexibility to help you get exactly the data you need without a lot of unnecessary information.

We currently have four table generator tools:

* - Access to the Degree and Enrollment Table Generators is restricted to GVSU employees to comply with federal rules on the confidentiality of student records.

Examples and explanations in the remainder of this document are taken from various Table Generators, but the functionalities described apply equally to each one.

The table generator interface consists of two principal parts:

  1. A few dozen colored boxes which represent the characteristics that can appear in your table ("Pods");
  2. A gray table diagram (at the bottom of the page), with white boxes representing the ways the data can appear in the table ("Slots").
You design your table by choosing the pods you want and putting them into the slots where you want them.

For example, (in the Enrollment Table Generator) if you put the Class pod into one of the of the slots labeled "Row", it would specify a table that looks something like this:


The table shows the number of students by class, with the classifications listed down the left side of the table. (You specified Class as a "Row" variable, so the table has a row for each class.) If you put Class in one of the slots labeled "Column" instead, the table would look like the following, with the classifications listed across the top of the table:

Total4093 4281 3982 6037 3670 22063

When you've designed your table the way you want it to appear, click the "Submit Request" button, and your table will be created exactly as you've requested, and you can read it in your browser, open it up as a spreadsheet, print it, or go back and modify the specifications.

The parts of the window:

There are 3 general parts to the table generator page:
  1. The available pods -- Here you'll find all of the variables you can use to design your table.
  2. The table diagram -- This is where you create your table layout. The white boxes are empty slots.
  3. Help and Table options -- The buttons on the left side of the page allow you to (a) access this help page, (b) specify whether you want an HTML table or a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, (c) save or restore a pre-defined table layout, (d) submit your table request, or (e) reset all parameters to their initial values.

How to move a pod:

Unless you're using a touchscreen device, the easiest way to move a pod is just to click it and drag it to where you want it to be. Use the left mouse button to click and drag the pod, and release the button over the desired location to drop the pod. Pods can only be dropped in appropriate slots or in their "home" location. If you drop a pod anywhere else on the page, it will return to its "home" location. The home location is the space reserved for the pod in the list of available pods (the upper 2/3 of the page).

You can also move a pod by using its options menu. Left click (or tap) on the pod to view the list of actions you can take with the variable. Among the options listed will be a list of places where the pod can be moved. These options will include some, but not all, of the following:

If you move a pod (either by drag-and-drop or the pod options menu) to a slot that is already occupied by another pod, the pods will trade places, with the displaced pod going to the place where the pod you moved started. (If the pod you moved was in its "home" location, the displaced pod will go to its own home, not to the exact spot where the new pod was located.) If the displaced pod is not allowed to occupy the slot from which you moved the new pod, the displaced pod will go to its home location instead.

Other things you can do with a pod:

In addition to moving a pod into, around in, or out of the table, there are several other useful actions available from the pod options menu. Not all options are available for all pods, and some options are context-sensitive -- they only appear on the options menu when the situation makes them appropriate.

The following actions may be available from the options menu:

The parts of the table (the slots)

A table can show your information in up to four different ways: across the columns of the table; down the table in rows; broken up into many different table pages; or as the data element summarized within the table's individual cells.  The following examples (from the Section Table Generator) illustrate the 4 types:

Data = Number of Sections

Course Prefix = FRE

Course Level
Lower-division Upper-division Total
Instructor Rank
Assistant Professor 4 6 10
Associate Professor 1 2 3
Total 5 8 13

In the tables to the left, Course Level is laid out as a "Column" variable, while Instructor Rank is shown as a "Row" variable.  Course Prefix is a "Page" variable here, meaning that a separate table is created for each subject area.  Finally, the "Data" element for these tables is Number of Sections , so each cell shows the number of sections with the characteristics described by the "Column", "Row", and "Page" variables. A table with two data elements, Number of Sections and Census Credit Hours, is shown below.  In it, the data elements are arrayed horizontally, as if they were values of a "Column" variable.

Data = Number of Sections

Course Prefix = GER

Course Level
Lower-division Upper-division Total
Instructor Rank
Assistant Professor 2 1 3
Professor 1 5 6
Total 3 6 9

Course Prefix = FRE

Data Type
Number of Sections Census Credit Hours
Instructor Rank
Assistant Professor 10 446
Associate Professor 3 142
Total 13 588

The Table Generator allows you to select up to 2 column variables and up to 2 row variables.  You can select one page variable and up to 4 data elements.  If you select more than one data element, a new pod, Data Variables, will appear in your table diagram. This pod is a placeholder that controls how the multiple data variables will be dispayed in your table. You can move it around in your table (to other "Column", "Row", or "Page" slots), but the only way to remove it from the table is to remove "Data" variables until only one "Data" slot is occupied, at which time the Data Variables pod will disappear. The Data Variables pod will initially be placed in an empty "Column", "Row", or "Page" slot if possible. If all of those slots are filled, Data Variables will displace the pod in the second "Column" slot.

The following tables illustrate effects of different placements of Data Variables:

The significance of order within table dimensions

With both column and row elements, you have the option of nesting variables. Nesting a variable means that the different levels of the second variable will be shown for each level of the first variable.  For the "Column" slots, a variable in the right-hand slot will be nested within the variable in the left-hand slot. For "Row" variables, the variable in the lower pod is nested within the variable in the upper slot. In both cases, if there is only one variable specified for that particular dimension (i.e. only one "Column" variable or only one "Row" variable), it makes no difference which of the two slots it occupies.

The tables below give examples of nested "Row" variables. In the first table, Course Level values are nested within Night/Weekend categories, while the second table has Night/Weekend nested within Course Level. The same data are displayed either way, although the presentation differs slightly.

Number of Sections
Night / Weekend Course Level
Evening and Weekend Undergraduate3
Graduate 24
No Evening or Weekend Undergraduate2817
Graduate 449
Evening Undergraduate382
Graduate 174
Weekend Undergraduate5
Graduate 28
Total Undergraduate3207
Graduate 675
Number of Sections
Course Level Night / Weekend
Undergraduate Evening and Weekend 3
No Evening or Weekend2817
Evening 382
Weekend 5
Graduate Evening and Weekend 24
No Evening or Weekend449
Evening 174
Weekend 28
Total Evening and Weekend 27
No Evening or Weekend3266
Evening 556
Weekend 33

For "Data" variables, slot order only affects the order in which the types of summary data appear. For example, the first Enrollment Table Generator table below has Headcount before Attempted Hours, while the second table has their positions reversed.

Data Type
HeadcountAttempted Hours
Female 11909 134273
Male 8002 92104
Total 19911 226377
Data Type
Attempted HoursHeadcount
Female 134273 11909
Male 92104 8002
Total 226377 19911
Note that the four data slots are in "row-major" order, meaning that any variables in the two top data slots will appear before any variables in the lower data slots.

Table Layout Hints

As a rule, you should make your tables as uncomplicated as possible.  The more variables you add to the table, the larger and more unwieldy your table becomes.  At the extremes, your table can become so large that it slows your web browser to an apparent halt.  Here are some hints for laying out tables that will give you the information you want without tons of unwanted data:

  1. Only use variables that you actually need.
  2. Use record selection to trim the amount of data your table presents.
  3. If you use variables with lots of different values (like Major, Department, or Course ID), use them as row variables, since row variables take up much less space on your screen or page than column or page variables.

Record selection:

By using the pods' Record Selection windows, you can modify your table request to only include information about the students (or faculty members, degrees, or courses) that are of interest to you. For example, you can use the Faculty Table Generator to create a table of only Engineering faculty, or only tenured faculty members, or female Associate Professors.

You can access the Record Selection window for a variable by choosing "Use it for record selection" from the pod's options menu. Note that a variable does not need to be part of your table layout to be used for record selection.

The Record Selection menu will take one of three forms. For continuous variables, you are asked to designate a range of values to include (or exclude); for most variables with discrete values you are given a selection list of possible values; for some variable with many possible text values, you can give a text string to match, with wildcards if necessary.

Applying your selections

When you have designated your selection criteria, click the "Done" button. The pod for which you just created selection criteria will now have asterisks (*) in its upper corners as a visual reminder that you have made exclusions.

If you specify selection criteria for more than one variable, those criteria are compounded -- records must meet all selection criteria to be included in the table. For example, if you select "Associate Professor" for Rank and "Female' for Gender you will get data only for faculty members who are female AND hold Associate Professor rank. (In logic terminology, you're making "and" operations, not "or" operations.) With these selections you could get the following simple trend breakdown for female Associate Professors:

College Academic Year
Total 88 157 245

To remind you that your table shows a subset of the GVSU faculty rather than the entire population, there will be a small extra table at the end of each report that summarizes the selection criteria you submitted.  For the example above, the summary table looks like this:

Summary of Record Selection Criteria

CharacteristicSelected Values
Academic Year 2012-13
Rank Associate Professor

About term (semester) or year selection

You can generate tables with GVSU data from a single semester or from multiple semesters. By default, tables will generally include data from the most recent relevant semester. Degree Table Generator tables default to the most recent complete academic year.

The record selection windows for Term or Academic Year include an option for "Most Recent Term" (or Year). This allows stored layouts to access updated data as it becomes available (e.g. a query that asks for Fall 2012 enrollment will always yield Fall 2012 figures, but a query for "Most Recent Term" will not.)

Note that selecting more than one term will not automatically result in a table that shows trend data.  You must also include Term as a table element (That is, the pod should be in the table diagram). If you use multiple terms' data, but do not specify Term as a table variable, data will be aggregated across terms. It is not possible to unduplicate by term (that is, to count how may individuals meet certain criteria in at least one term in a multi-term range). If you need unduplicated counts for a multi-semester period, please contact the Office of Institutional Analysis directly.

Formatting variables:

With many variables, you have a choice about how the values will be categorized in your table. This allows you much more flexibility to create the table precisely the way you need it. For example, the default Degree Table Generator categories for age include the range "25-29". However, if you need to know how many bachelor's degree recipients were over 25 (i.e. 26 or older), the default doesn't quite work. You can use the formatting window for Age to tell the table generator to use a single cutpoint at 26, and your table will have just two age categories -- representing "Under 26" and "26 and Older".

There are two types of formatting windows you may encounter. A few variables have a limited number of formatting options available, and their formatting windows present a drop-down list with the choices. Following is a list of those variables and links to their data dictionary entries, where you can find specific details about formatting options.
    Degree TG
  • [None]

The other type of formatting window appears for continous variables -- that is, variables like Age or Attempted Hours that can take any value within an expected range. For these variables a default rule for separating the values into categories has been assigned (these are described in the variables' data dictionary entries), but you can apply a customized formatting rule if you want.

The custom formatting rule for a continuous variable can take either of two forms: a list of specific cutpoints, or an interval for equal-size ranges.

In cases where the university does not know (or did not know at the time the data were captured) the value for a variable for one or more records, the missing data will be reported as a separate category, typically labeled with a period (.).

Record duplication:

Enabling duplication by a variable in your table is a way of acknowledging that some characteristics are not restricted to "one to a customer." For example, a student can have more than one major at a time. If you specify an Enrollment Table Generator table showing students'majors but don't enable duplication, you'll get a tabulation of students' primary majors, and the total for the table will correctly reflect the number of students at the university (provided you didn't use record selection). However, the number of students majoring in any given field may be under-reported, because students who declared the program as their second major will only be counted toward their primary program. If you run the same table with duplication enabled, you will get accurate counts of the number of students in each particular major, but the total for the table will be higher than the actual number of students at the university.

The decision of whether to enable duplication is substantive, based on your needs. If you want each student (or faculty member, course section, or degree) to be counted only once and you want the totals to be easier to interpret, avoid duplication. On the other hand, if you want to be certain to count every instance of a characteristic and aren't worried about the values in the totals, then you should use duplication.

It is only possible to enable duplication for one variable at a time. When you enable duplication for a variable, it is automatically disabled for any other variable. You will receive an alert if the table generator disables a prior setting in this way.

It is only possible to enable duplication when the variables are specified as column, row, or page variables. Once the variable pod is in a column, row, or page slot, click on it to open the options menu, then choose "Allow duplication for [students] with multiple values".

The following Table Generator variables can have duplication enabled.

    Section TG
  • [None]

Table options

The Table Options area at the left side of the Table Generator screen contains controls to access this help page, control the table format, save or restore a pre-defined table layout, submit your table request, or reset all parameters to their initial values. The Section Table generator also allows users to specify how cross-listed courses should be tabulated.

Excel output

You can request your Table Generator output in HTML form (which will appear in your browser), or as an Excel spreadsheet. The only substantive difference between the two is that HTML output has the variable labels hyperlinked to their data dictionary entries. In fact, both forms of output are actually constructed in HTML -- the "Excel" versions are just presented to your browser in a form that induces it to send the file to Excel for opening. Your browser will probably ask whether you want to open the file or save it -- open it. Then Excel will typically issue a warning that looks like this:

Select "Yes" to open the file. There is nothing harmful in it!

Storing table layouts

If you have a Table Generator request that you make repeatedly, you can save the specification to reuse later. Once you have made the specification, click the "Save Layout" button. You will be prompted to give it a name. Choose something that will help you identify it later, then click "OK". Note that only about 30 characters will show up in the selection list.

Stored layouts write the table specification to a tiny cookie on your computer. This has a couple noteworthy implications. First, you are saving the description of the table, not the table itself. Second, the save layout is only available on the computer on which it was created. If you get a new computer, you'll need to recreate your saved layouts.

Restoring saved layouts

Saved layouts are listed in a drop-down menu right above the "Submit" button. The list is pre-populated with some general-interest layouts that are available to all users. Layouts that you have created personally will appear below the prefabricated ones, in the order that you created them.

Remember that layouts that are with an explicit term specified will be restored with that specification. If you intend to re-use the table to acquire updated data over time, you should use the "Most Recent Term" (or year) selection in the records selection window rather than a specific term.

Managing saved layouts

If you have saved layouts that you created on your computer, you can rename or remove them. To do so, choose "Manage stored layouts" from the layout selection list. (It should be at the very bottom, below the prefabricated layouts and any that you've created. It won't appear on the list if you don't have any saved layouts.) The Manage Stored Layouts window will look similar to the following:

You can delete or rename any of your layouts, then choose "Done" to save your changes. You can click "Cancel" to exit without making changes. If you do save your changes, they won't be apparent on the Table Generator screen until you refresh the page.

Data Dictionary:

   Following is a list of data elements available in the Faculty Table Generator.

Notice: Undefined index: permit in C:\xampp\htdocs\tg\ftg\datadict.php on line 32

Notice: Undefined variable: reqlev in C:\xampp\htdocs\tg\ftg\datadict.php on line 32
Department / School
Office Location

Notice: Undefined index: permit in C:\xampp\htdocs\tg\ftg\datadict.php on line 14
Tenure Status
Highest Degree
Full-time equivalence
Number of faculty
Contact Hours - Fall
Contact Hours - Winter
Contact Hours - Spr/Sum

Academic Year

The academic year in which the faculty member was employed. Since full-time faculty appointments begin in the fall and encompass the academic year, faculty headcounts do not change significantly between fall and winter semesters.
Notice: Undefined index: permit in C:\xampp\htdocs\tg\ftg\datadict.php on line 47

Core Faculty Table Generator data are updated annual around October 1.
Notice: Undefined index: permit in C:\xampp\htdocs\tg\ftg\datadict.php on line 53

Back to variable list


The college that holds the faculty member's primary appointment.

Back to variable list

Department / School

The department that holds the faculty member's primary appointment. Although some faculty members hold joint appointments, they are required to have a primary department for Human Resources purposes, and it is with that department that the faculty member is tabulated.

Back to variable list

Office Location

The building in which the faculty members principal office is located.

Back to variable list


The faculty member's rank or appointment type. The default level of aggregation is to show detailed rank, as in the first column of the table below. Alternatively, you may group all long-term and shorter-term full-time faculty (as shown in column 2) by using variable formatting.

Distinguished ProfessorRegular Faculty
Associate Professor
Assistant Professor
Affiliate ProfessorAffiliate and Visiting Faculty
Visiting Professor
Back to variable list

Tenure Status

Indicates whether the faculty member has earned tenure, or is eligible to earn it.

Back to variable list

Highest Degree

The level of the faculty member's degree, as recorded in the Human Resources system

An alternative formatting scheme is available to group the degrees into 4 categories: Back to variable list

Full-time equivalence

The full-time equivalence (FTE) of the faculty member's appointment. Although all faculty included in the Faculty Table Generator have appointments that are commonly called "full-time" in postsecondary education parlance, a few are in fact only employed part-time. The majority of these cases are phased retirement arrangements for long-time faculty members. When used as a data variable, table cells will contain the sum of the FTE for all applicable faculty members.

Back to variable list


The faculty member's gender

Back to variable list


The faculty member's ethnicity, as reported in the Human Resources data system. Beginning in 2010-11, employees are given the option of reporting multiple ethnic backgrounds, so duplicative reporting by ethnicity is possible. If duplication by ethnicity is not enabled, faculty members who indicated more than one ethnic background are reported as "2 or more", unless they indicated Hispanic/Latino origin, in which case they are reported as "Hispanic", following the reporting convention mandated by the US Department of Education.

Back to variable list


The faculty member's age, as of September 1 of the given academic year. If it's used as a categorical variable then the default groupings are 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, etc. In a data field, the average age is shown.

Back to variable list

Number of faculty

The number of faculty members meeting the given criteria. This is the default data variable for FTG tables.

Back to variable list
Notice: Undefined index: permit in C:\xampp\htdocs\tg\ftg\datadict.php on line 157

Data Variables

This pod is a placeholder that controls how the multiple data variables will be dispayed in your table. You can move it around in your table (to other "Column", "Row", or "Page" slots), but the only way to remove it from the table is to remove "Data" variables until only one "Data" slot is occupied, at which time the Data Variables pod will disappear. The Data Variables pod will initially be placed in an empty "Column", "Row", or "Page" slot if possible. If all of those slots are filled, Data Variables will displace the pod in the second "Column" slot.

Back to variable list