The data is the representation of a qualitative or quantitative variable. Thus, it is assigned a number, letter or symbol.


The data usually has an empirical basis, that is, it comes from reality. In this sense, it can be used for the analysis of a specific event. However, to carry out this study, the data must be organized and it must also have theoretical support.

In other words, having a series of data only does not allow you to reach a conclusion. However, if I have a whole theoretical framework to explain, for example, the observed figures, a statistical analysis can be carried out with the support of mathematical tools.

A piece of data, in turn, is not usually alone, but is related to –and requires– other variables. For example, the height and weight of a person must be linked to the name and other personal data of the individual in question. Otherwise it would be of no use. We must know who owns the registered information.

It should also be noted that, in computing, data is information entered in the correct way so that a computer can process it.

Also, in a broader sense, another meaning of data is a document or testimony about a particular event.

Type of data

The data can be of various types. However, one way to classify them would be as follows:

  • Numeric: It is a figure that can be whole or with decimals.
  • Text: It can be a letter, word or a series of characters arranged in a certain sequence.

Likewise, they can also be classified as follows:

  • Qualitative: They describe a characteristic that cannot be measured in figures. For example, nationality.
  • Quantitative: It is information that can be described in figures.

It should be noted that a qualitative data can be expressed as a number. For example, if in the database used, all those who live in the city of Madrid were assigned the number 1, while those who do not live in that place were assigned the number 0.

Difference between data and information

The difference between data and information is that the former is a record. Instead, the information is the result of processing the data so that it can be interpreted by the public.

As we have mentioned previously, data by itself does not communicate anything, but must be contextualized and related to other data and variables. In this way, they become information.


A related concept, and one that is very interesting, is the database. This, in computing, is a digital file with organized and segmented information. In this way, it can be used by users.

The database must be designed according to the objectives to be achieved with it. This will determine which variables to include. For example, a service company will seek to register the telephone number of its customers.