Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Exaggerating differences or similarities
Is a Chart Really Necessary?
Before you create a chart, you might ask yourself a simple question: Is a chart really
necessary? The purpose of a chart is to present information. But, depending on your
audience, a chart may not always be the best way to present your information. Before
you assume that a chart is required, consider the alternatives and then make a decision.
For simple data, a nicely formatted text table may be a better option. The data in the
accompanying figure, for example, does not reveal any significant changes over time,
and it does not benefit by being viewed in the form of a chart.
Also, keep in mind that creating too many charts may simply overwhelm the audience.
Viewing an endless series of charts that don’t have a compelling message may even
disrupt the viewers’ attention and cause them to overlook the charts that do have a
A chart’s aspect ratio can also affect the chart’s overall message. The term aspect
ratio refers to the chart’s width-to-height relationship. A “normal” aspect ratio is
4:3, which means that the chart is four units wide and three units high (this also
corresponds to common computer display resolutions).
Figure 11-4 shows three line charts that display the same data. Even though the
value axis scale is identical for the three charts, they present very different
impressions of the data.