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Nominal Ordinal Interval Ratio & Cardinal: Examples

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Nominal Ordinal Interval Ratio: Examples


  1. Nominal
  2. Ordinal
  3. Interval
  4. Ratio
  5. Cardinal

1. Nominal

Nominal Ordinal Interval Ratio: Examples.

A pie chart displays groups of nominal variables (i.e. categories).

Nominal: nominal is from the Latin nomalis, which means “pertaining to names”. It’s another name for a category.


  • Gender: Male, Female, Other.
  • Hair Color: Brown, Black, Blonde, Red, Other.
  • Type of living accommodation: House, Apartment, Trailer, Other.
  • Genotype: Bb, bb, BB, bB.
  • Religious preference: Buddhist, Mormon, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Other.

2. Ordinal

ordinal scale

The ordinal scale classifies according to rank.

Ordinal: means in order. Includes “First,” “second” and “ninety ninth.”


  • High school class ranking: 1st, 9th, 87th…
  • Socioeconomic status: poor, middle class, rich.
  • The Likert Scale: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree.
  • Level of Agreement: yes, maybe, no.
  • Time of Day: dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night.
  • Political Orientation: left, center, right.

3. Interval

interval scale

Interval: has values of equal intervals that mean something. For example, a thermometer might have intervals of ten degrees.


  • Celsius Temperature.
  • Fahrenheit Temperature.
  • IQ (intelligence scale).
  • SAT scores.
  • Time on a clock with hands.

4. Ratio

ratio scale

Weight is measured on the ratio scale.

Ratio: exactly the same as the interval scale except that the zero on the scale means: does not exist. For example, a weight of zero doesn’t exist; an age of zero doesn’t exist. On the other hand, temperature (with the exception of Kelvin) is not a ratio scale, because zero exists (i.e. zero on the Celsius scale is just the freezing point; it doesn’t mean that water ceases to exist).


  • Age.*
  • Weight.
  • Height.
  • Sales Figures.
  • Ruler measurements.
  • Income earned in a week.
  • Years of education.
  • Number of children.

*It could be argued that age isn’t on the ratio scale, as age 0 is culturally determined. For example, Chinese people also have a nominal age, which is tricky to calculate.

5. Cardinal Numbers

A cardinal number, sometimes called a “counting number,” is used for counting, like when you count 1,2,3…
You use these numbers to answer the question “how many?”

Many times, sets of cardinal numbers create statistics. When this happens, the cardinal numbers disappear. For example, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, the average number of people per household in the U.S. is 2.58. This number was arrived at by taking the cardinal number of people in each household and then finding the mean. Once you’ve taken that set of cardinals and found its mean (2.58), the statistic is no longer cardinal.


Gonick, L. (1993). The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. HarperPerennial.
Levine, D. (2014). Even You Can Learn Statistics and Analytics: An Easy to Understand Guide to Statistics and Analytics 3rd Edition. Pearson FT Press

Stephanie Glen. "Nominal Ordinal Interval Ratio & Cardinal: Examples" From Elementary Statistics for the rest of us!

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