Types of data

This guide is for information only and should help you understand the different types of data and how they can be used.

Data is a collective name for information recorded for statistical purposes. There are many different types of data:

  • qualitative data - data that can only be written in words, not numbers, for example, the colours of cars in a car park
  • quantitative data - data that can be written in numbers, for example, the heights of children
  • discrete data - numerical data that cannot be shown in decimals, for example, the number of children in a classroom
  • continuous data - numerical data that can be shown in decimals, for example, the weights of 10 babies
  • primary data - data that has been collected from the original source for a specific purpose, for example, if a school wanted to know what their students thought of the school canteen service they would question the pupils directly
  • secondary data - data that is not originally collected by a group for a specific purpose, for example, finding out the average cost of cars in a car park by using national statistics