I remember learning tally marks in elementary school. It never crossed my mind that there might be different ways to tally.
About a year ago this image showed up in one of my feeds and I saved it:
Since saving this, I’ve tried the other two methods of tallying (mostly while puzzling) and I have some opinions and conclusions to share.
I love the “box” method
After trying all of these out, I’ve found what I’ll call the “box” method is considerably better for me.
Drawing the box feels better because I can do it without looking, and without picking up my pen.
With the other two methods, I have to at least be aware of what my pen is doing and where it’s placed.
At a quick glance, the box method has a visual distinctiveness that I find easier to process than the other two.
With the vertical tallies that I grew up with, sometimes I have a hard time visually processing whether there are 3 or 4 lines.
According to Dig Mandarin, “Chinese tally marks add up to make the shape of the Chinese character 正 (pronounced zhèng), which means “correct” or ‘true/right.'”
I think it’s really cool that there is a tally method that has meaning in addition to function, but I couldn’t comfortably make this work for me. However, I imagine it would feel a lot more natural if I grew up drawing Chinese characters.
There’s No Right Or Wrong Way
There’s no right or wrong way to tally. Speaking for myself, I’m glad that I found a new way to accomplish this task.
I would have been fine using the method that I grew up on for the rest of my life, but I am happier with this new one. I always find it cool when I learn a better or different way to do a thing that I had assumed was only done one way.