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What is Nominal Data? Definition, Characteristics, and Examples

What is Nominal Data? Definition, Characteristics, and Examples

In this blog, we’ll talk about nominal data and all the reasons why it’s important, how it works and many other interesting topics to it.

The following subjects are listed below and will be covered:

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What is Nominal Data?

Data that is used to categorize and identify data points is known as nominal data in the field of Data Science. It is used to categorize data into categories but has no related numerical value.

Nominal data, also known as qualitative data, is frequently used to record the qualities or names of individuals, communities, or objects. Nominal data examples include gender, nation, state, race, profession, product category, and any other categorization.

In Data Science, nominal data is utilized to comprehend intricate connections between data types. For instance, examining the relationship between gender and profession might reveal which jobs are more likely to be held by men and women.

Customer groups based on nationality are another instance of nominal data utilization. This may be utilized to better comprehend the variations among clients from other nations and how they engage with a company’s goods or services.

Nominal data types are widely used in a variety of fields and are often used in the construction of contingency tables and other methods for comparing proportions and frequencies of different categories.

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Characteristics of Nominal Data

  • Nominal data is a categorical type of information encompassing both qualitative and quantitative aspects.
  • Quantitative labels in nominal data lack numeric value, like identification numbers, while various qualitative elements can be represented nominally, including words, letters, and symbols.
  • Categories within nominal data are mutually exclusive, with no overlap between them, and lack a quantitative relationship or numeric value.
  • Unlike ordinal or interval data, nominal data cannot be ordered hierarchically, and no category holds greater significance than others.
  • The mean cannot be calculated for nominal data, irrespective of alphabetical arrangement; however, the mode serves as the primary measure of central tendency.
  • Nominal data is inherently qualitative, often collected through questionnaires with qualitative attribute options.
  • It is impossible to perform arithmetic operations on nominal data due to its lack of numeric value.
  • Mode calculation identifies the most frequent category, while the absence of numeric value precludes calculating a meaningful mean.
  • Nominal data is predominantly presented alphabetically, facilitating easy categorization for analysis.
  • Understanding the unique characteristics of nominal data is vital for accurate data interpretation and meaningful statistical analysis.

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Need of Nominal Data

One of the most often utilized forms of data in the field of Data Science is Nominal Data.

Data such as gender or work titles are a form of data that is used to categorize data.

It offers a method for contrasting several types or categories of data. Because it enables researchers to spot patterns and trends in huge data sets, this kind of data is crucial to data science.

Data is divided into multiple groups using nominal data. For instance, a researcher would utilize nominal data to divide data into groups for men and women if they wished to examine how gender affects success at work.

This would enable them to determine whether the success rates for the two genders varied in any way. Similar to the previous example, nominal data may be used to compare the salaries of persons with various educational backgrounds in order to evaluate the effect of education level on pay.

Nominal data is also important for classification tasks. For example, a researcher might use nominal data to classify items into different categories, such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.

This type of data can also be used to identify relationships between different classes of data. For instance, a researcher might use nominal data to identify relationships between different job titles and salaries.

Nominal data is a very important type of data for data science. It helps researchers identify patterns, trends, and relationships in large datasets.

It also allows researchers to classify data into different categories and make predictions about future outcomes. By using nominal data, researchers can gain valuable insights into how different variables impact their research results.

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How does Nominal Data Function?

Nominal data is a crucial component of data science since it enables researchers to learn more about a community or group of individuals.

It is a flexible technique that may be applied to provide predictions and provide answers to many different kinds of queries.

Data scientists may more effectively interpret and analyze data by being aware of how nominal data functions and how it may be used.

Nominal data can be used to answer questions such as how many people belong to a certain demographic, the different types of occupations within a population, or the different kinds of products people buy.

It is also used to measure opinion or attitude, such as how people feel about a particular issue or brand. Nominal data is often used in surveys and other forms of market research.

Nominal data is useful in data analysis because it allows data scientists to analyze the data in a structured way. For example, by categorizing a dataset into nominal data categories, data scientists can easily identify trends, correlations, and other patterns.

It is often used in fields such as marketing, sociology, and psychology, as it provides a convenient way to categorize and analyze data. When working with nominal data, it is common to use frequency tables, bar charts, and pie charts to visualize the distribution of categories.

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Nominal vs. Ordinal Data

The main distinction between ordinal data and nominal data is that the former has a predetermined order, whilst the latter does not. While categorizing and labeling variables may be done using any type of data, their measurement and visualization methods differ. Here is a table showing the differences between ordinal and nominal data:

FeatureOrdinal DataNominal Data
DefinitionCategorizes observations into distinct, ordered groups.Categorizes observations into distinct, non-numeric groups.
NatureHas an inherent order.Does not have any inherent order.
ExampleLikert scale responses (Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree).Gender (Male, Female), Favorite Color (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow).
MeasurementOrdinal measurement.Nominal measurement.
VisualizationBar graphs, line graphs, box plots, and histograms.Pie charts, bar graphs, frequency tables.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Nominal Data

Let’s go through each of nominal data’s benefits and drawbacks individually to better grasp both their advantages and their drawbacks:

Advantages of Nominal Data:

Here are the following advantages of Nominal Data that are used in Data Science:

  • Simplicity: Nominal data is easy to understand and categorize as it does not require any mathematical calculations or statistical analysis.
  • Flexibility: It can be used to label and categorize a wide variety of variables, making it versatile and flexible for many different applications.
  • Ease of Collection: Collecting nominal data is often straightforward and can be done through surveys, questionnaires, or observation.
  • Categorization: It provides a convenient way to categorize and group similar observations, making it easier to analyze and interpret patterns.

Disadvantages of Nominal Data:

We’ve seen the different benefits that nominal data offers. Now let’s take a  look at its disadvantages:

  • Limited Information: It provide limited information as it does not have any inherent order or structure.
  • Inadequate for Statistical Analysis: Nominal data cannot be used for statistical analysis, on operations such as mean, median, and mode, as it does not have any numerical values.
  • Limited Comparison: It does not allow for direct comparison between categories, as there is no inherent order or distance between them.
  • Subjectivity: Nominal data can be subjective, as it relies on the labeling and categorization of the data by the researcher or survey designer.


Since nominal data enables data scientists to learn more about a community or group of individuals, it is a crucial component of data science. It is a flexible tool that may be used to provide forecasts and respond to a range of inquiries. Data scientists may better interpret and analyze data by having a solid grasp of nominal data’s operation and potential applications.

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About the Author

Principal Data Scientist

Meet Akash, a Principal Data Scientist who worked as a Supply Chain professional with expertise in demand planning, inventory management, and network optimization. With a master’s degree from IIT Kanpur, his areas of interest include machine learning and operations research.