This Glossary of Common Data Terms was developed locally as a non-technical resource for those interested in expanding their functional data vocabulary. This glossary contains commonly used data terms defined in easy-to-understand language. Although the definitions are informal and non-academic, the following academic texts heavily informed their development:

Shryock, H.S., and Siegel, J.S. The Methods and Materials of Demography. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1976.
Haupt, A. and Kane, T.T. Population Handbook. Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, Inc., 1978.

Click here for a printable version of the Glossary of Common Data Terms.

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There are currently 6 names in this directory beginning with the letter M.
Margin of error
when we can’t measure all of something, like people in a city, we sample them – measure only some to get an idea (estimate) of what’s true for everyone. Sampling introduces error and uncertainty, and the margin of error – for example, “plus or minus three percentage points” – is a measure of how much uncertainty there is. The smaller the sample in relation to the total population, generally, the larger the margin of error.

see Average.

value in an ordered set of values above and below which there are an equal number of values. This can also be referred to as the 50th percentile.

most common or most frequent value in a set of values.

can refer to having a disease or a symptom of disease. See Comorbidity. Or, to the amount of disease within a population often expressed as a morbidity rate. See Rate.

refers to deaths.




Below are a few of the many free resources available online for those who would like to learn more about data, from the basics to advanced concepts and skills.

  1. School of Data.
  2. Data-Pop Alliance.
  3. Oceans of Data Institute.