Types of data

This guide is for information only and it 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:

  • discrete data - numerical data that can only take certain values, for example, the number of children in a classroom or a shoe size
  • continuous data - numerical data that can take any value within a given range, for example, the masses of 10 babies or the heights of some adults
  • 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