What are some alternatives to presenting data instead of tables?

You could try a timeline like the diagram below (modified from another post on SX.TEX):

enter image description here


\definecolor{arrowcolor}{RGB}{201,216,232}% color for the arrow filling
\definecolor{circlecolor}{RGB}{79,129,189}% color for the inner circles filling
\colorlet{textcolor}{white}% color for the text inside the circles
\colorlet{bordercolor}{white}% color for the outer border of circles



\newlength\taskwidth% width of the box for the task description
\newlength\taskvsep% vertical distance between the task description and arrow




  on chain,
  inner sep=2pt,
  line width=1.5pt,
  text width=1.2em,
  text height=1.25ex,
  text depth=0ex
on grid

\node[inner xsep=0pt] (c1) {\phantom{A}};
  (c\the\numexpr\value{task}+1\relax) {#1};
  at (c\the\numexpr\value{task}+1\relax) {\task{#2}};

\newcommand\drawarrow{% the arrow is placed in the background layer 
                                                     % after the node for the tasks have been placed
  \node[on chain] (c1) {}; % if no \Task command is used, the arrow will be drawn
\node[on chain] (f) {};
  inner sep=10pt,
  single arrow,
  single arrow head extend=0.8cm,
  fit= (c1) (f)
] (arrow) {};
\fill[white] % the decoration at the tail of the arrow
  (arrow.before tail) -- (c1|-arrow.west) -- (arrow.after tail) -- cycle;

\newenvironment{timeline}[1][node distance=.6\taskwidth]
  {\par\noindent\begin{tikzpicture}[start chain,#1]}

\Task[1]{Short run\\ 1 days}
\Task[2]{1 week  \\ 10/10/2013}
\Task[3]{1 month \\ 3/10/2013}
\Task[4]{Technical Evaluation \\ 7/10/2013}
\Task[5]{Submittal Preparation \\ 17/10/2013}
\Task[6]{Submittal \\ 18/10/2013}
\Task[7]{Approval \\ 3/11/2013}
\Task[8]{Order\\ 5/11/2013}
\Task[9]{Delivery\\28 Feb 2014}


You can combine all in one, or have three one for short term, medium and long term, perhaps with color coding.

I am just adding another answer to the one I provided earlier as this takes a different view all together.

The best and most succinct way to express and visualize timelines are maths.

enter image description here

I am in agreement that presenting such data in a table is a horrendous idea. I also dislike the terms medium term, long term etc as a) they smell too much of enterprise talk and b) they remind me of 5 year and 10 year plans of economic committees in long forgotten and fallen Evil Empires.

I am not sure if a gantt chart is a better solution, as you have not added adequate detail, but you can also try pgfgantt.

Visualizations such as the one I provided help in viewing time dependent data at a glance. They can have many forms. Tufte's website is a good place to start. Here anything goes and is bounded only by imagination not code.

enter image description here

The image above is from the codex seraphinianus. It is a time line describing the transformation of a flowering plant to a flying machine in the medium to the long term. It comes with instructions. Let your imagination go wild.

May be a classic schema:


Or a less classic schema:





\SB{Time period \\and length}{
  \SB{1 Day}{The first day and \\ something and something \\ dummy text \ldots}\\\\\
  \SB{1 Week}{Begin}
  \SB{1 Month}{Then do\\ this}\\
  \SB{6 Months}{lalala}
\SB{Long Run}{
\SB{1 Year}{or something}}



\SB{Time \\period \\and \\length}{
 $\bullet$ \SB{1 Day}{The first day and  something and something dummy text \ldots}\\
  \SB{1 Week}{Begin}
\SB{Medium Run}{
  \TL{6}\SB{1 Month}{Then do this}\\
  \TL{31}\SB{6 Months}{lalala}
Long Run \TL{61}\SB{}{
\SB{1 Year}{or something}}