Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
2 of year 1 (horizontal value 5). The relative size of each color within a column
provides information of the sales quantities for each product in the quarter. For our
data, the Stacked Column chart provides visual information about quarterly totals
that is easier to discern. Yet, it still remains difficult to track the quarterly changes
within products and among products over time. For example, it would be difficult
to determine if product D is greater or smaller in quarter 3 or 4 of year 1, or to
determine the magnitude of each.
Next, Exhibit 2.5 demonstrates a 3-D Column (3 dimensional) chart. This is a
visually impressive graph due to the 3-D effect, but much of the information relating
to time based behavior of the products is lost due to the inability to clearly view
columns hidden by other columns. The angle of perspective for 3-D graphs can be
changed to remedy this problem partially, but if a single graph is used to chart many
data series, they can still be difficult, or impossible, to view.
Now, let us convert the chart type to a Line chart and determine if there is
an improvement or difference in the visual interpretation of the data. Before we
begin, we must be careful to consider what we mean by an improvement, because
an improvement is only an improvement relative to a goal that we establish for
data presentation. For example, consider the goal that the presentation portrays the
changes in each product’s sales over quarters. Thus, we will want to use a chart
that easily permits the viewer’s eye to follow the quarterly related change in each
specific series. Line charts will probably provide a better visual presentation of the
data than Column charts, especially in time series data, if this is our goal.
Exhibit 2.6 shows the 5 product data in a simple and direct format. Note that
the graph provides information in the three areas we have identified as important:
(1) the relative value of a product’s sales to other products within each quarter,
(2) the relative value of a product’s sales to other products across quarters, and
Exhibit 2.5 3-D column chart for products A–E
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