Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Session 4.1 Quick Check
Written Communication: Communicating Effectively with Charts
Studies show that people interpret information easier in a graphic form than in a tabular
format. As a result, charts can help communicate the real story underlying the facts
and figures you present to colleagues and clients. A well-designed chart can illuminate
the bigger picture that might be hidden by viewing only the numbers. However, poorly
designed charts can mislead readers and make it more difficult to interpret data.
To create effective and useful charts, keep in mind the following tips as you
• Keep it simple. Do not clutter a chart with too many graphic elements. Focus attention
on the data rather than on decorative elements that do not inform.
• Focus on the message. Design the chart to highlight the points you want to convey to
• Limit the number of data series used in the chart. Line charts and column charts
should display no more than three or four data series. Pie charts should have no more
than six slices.
• Use gridlines in moderation. Gridlines should be used to provide only approximate
values for the data markers. Having too many gridlines can obscure the data being graphed.
• Choose colors carefully. Display different data series in contrasting colors to make it
easier to distinguish one series from another. Modify the default colors as needed to
make them distinct on the screen and in the printed copy.
• Limit your chart to a few text styles. Use a maximum of two or three different text
styles in the same chart. Having too many text styles in one chart can distract attention
from the data.
The goal of written communication is always to inform the reader in the simplest, most
accurate, and most direct way possible. When creating worksheets and charts, everything
in the workbook should be directed toward that end.
Ajita is pleased with the two charts you’ve created and formatted. In the next session,
you’ll create a line chart and you’ll explore options for creating 3-D charts, chart sheets,
Session 4.1 Quick Check
1. What are the three components of a data series?
2. In what two locations can a chart be placed?
3. What is the difference between the chart area and the plot area?
4. A data series contains values divided into 10 categories. Would this data be
better displayed as a pie chart or a column chart? Why?
5. What are major tick marks, minor tick marks, and gridlines?
6. What is a bar chart?
7. How do you change the scale of a chart axis?