Wednesday, September 2, 2009

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I told some friends that I would post something tonight that would change their lives forever, so here it is: my thoughts on tally marks.

I do not claim to have a knowledge of tally marks used around the world, but I know that in the United States we rarely see anything other than the traditional "four vertical lines and a dash" method. This system, while useful, has some inherent flaws. Difficulty in creating parallel lines, limited spacing, and high repetitiveness create errors in both the reading and writing of the tally marks. Have you ever incorrectly included a sixth mark in a set of five marks? I certainly have. How about in the classroom - have you ever felt like you were taking (and failing) an eye exam as you tried to count the number of parallel lines on the other side of the room?

For anyone who has ever been frustrated with tally marks I present an alternate method, taught to me a few years ago by a Brazilian friend.

Instead of drawing four parallel lines, one counts to five by outlining a box and then drawing a dash through the middle. It is easy to read and distinguish any stage, even from far away. The drawing of the box makes it easy to keep track of where you are, eliminating those mysterious sixth tallies. And finally, the boxes are totally enclosed, reducing the likelihood of misreading two separate sets as something combined.

But don't take my word for it! Try it! I think you will find this method easier and more aesthetically pleasing. In short, it will bring you more happiness, which is what I'm all about. :)

Do you know of any other ways to mark tallies? Do share!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

My life is changed! I don't know any other ways to make tally marks, but wikipedia says in China and Japan they write the character for "honesty", which has five strokes.