Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Chapter 11: Avoiding Common Chart-Making Mistakes
Chapter 11
Avoiding Common
Chart-Making Mistakes
Various ways in which a chart can be inaccurate
Potential problems related to using an inappropriate chart type
Chart complexity
Stylistic and aesthetic considerations
A chart-maker’s checklist
I N A PERFECT WORLD , EVERY chart you create is a work of art that communicates a
message clearly and efficiently. In the real world, of course, charts are subject to a
wide variety of problems.
This chapter discusses some frequent problems related to charts, and it may help
you avoid some common pitfalls — and create more effective charts.
Know Your Audience
Every chart has an audience or a potential audience. In some cases, the audience is
only yourself. But in the majority of cases, the charts you produce will be viewed
by others — in the context of your Excel workbook, or perhaps in the form of a
PowerPoint presentation or as part of a printed report. The finished product (that is,
the chart) should be geared toward its intended audience.
Key points that you need to consider include:
The accuracy of the data. A chart can present data that is perfectly
accurate, yet can be very misleading in a number of different ways.
The complexity of the information presented. A general rule of thumb:
Those higher in the corporate pecking order typically desire simple
information. When you’re faced with a decision to make a simple chart or a
complex chart, a simpler chart is almost always a better option.
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