Data Versus Information: What’s the Difference?

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Data and information are not the same things. Data is not usually useful by itself. We need to place data in its proper perspective to turn it into useful information.

KEY Takeaways

  • Data are raw facts or numbers. 
  • Information is contextualized data.
  • Data on their own are useless. They must be organized and grouped to become useful.

What is Data?

Data are raw facts or figures. Data can be numbers, text, images, or any other source of information. It’s a record or set of records that contain information about something. This could be anything from an address, a phone number, a person’s name, or the number of visitors to this article.

What is Information?

Information is data that has been organized and grouped together to give context. This can be done by analyzing data and creating charts and graphs. An example of information is statistics showing the percentage of men and women who visit this article or the variation in the number of visits during weekdays and weekends. The data becomes information once it is analyzed, organized and grouped together.

Information Is Contextualized Data

Data Are Only Useful When Organized and Grouped Together

Data on their own are not useful. Data must be organized and grouped together to become information. Data is like the ingredients of a recipe—it must be organized to be useful.

Once you have the data, you must organize, analyze and group them together to create the meaning and context. Data are useful only when they are put into context.

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