Occasionally you will find data on a paper copy which is not available electronically.

How would I process data which is only available as a paper copy?

Students frequently baulk at typing in such data, but it is very quick to do so, especially when you have the hang of it. The quickest way to type in data is to use the numeric keypad at the right of the keyboard (not the numbers above the alphabet), which means using a conventional keyboard rather than a laptop. If you are having to work in a library then use a library machine. If you have to use a laptop and need to type in a lot of numbers then consider buying a numeric keypad.

If you type in data you will make mistakes, so you need to work out a way of checking the numbers. The best way to do this is to have the data typed in twice and then compare the two series (this is obviously time-consuming).

An alternative to typing is scanning using a computer. The main problem with this is that it is not only important to get the correct numbers but to ensure that they are in the correct cells in the table, for which you may need specialist scanning software.

A useful collection of worldwide data, drawing on both official and unofficial sources, is

Mitchell, B. R. (2003) International Historical Statistics (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan). (Separate volumes for Europe, The Americas and Africa, Asia and Oceana).