Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
A Quick Look at Dashboard Design Principles
should have a purpose. It’s important that you format your numbers effectively so your users can
understand the information they represent without confusion or hindrance.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when formatting the numbers in your dashboards
and reports.
➤ Always use commas to make numbers easier to read. For example, instead of 2345,
show 2,345.
➤ Only use decimal places if that level of precision is required. For instance, there is rarely a
benefit for showing the decimal places in a dollar amount such as $123.45. Likewise in
percentages, use only the minimum number of decimals required to represent the data
effectively. For example instead of 43.21%, you may be able to get away with 43%.
➤ Only use the dollar symbol when you need to clarify that you’re referring to monetary values.
If you have a chart or table that contains all revenue values, and there is a label clearly stating
this, you can save room and pixels by leaving out the dollar symbol.
➤ Format very large numbers to thousands or millions place. For instance, instead of displaying
16,906,714, you can format the number to read 17M.
In Chapter 2, you explore how to leverage number formatting tricks to enhance the readability of
your dashboards and reports.
Use titles and labels effectively
It’s common sense, but people often fail to label items on dashboards effectively. If your customer
looks at your dashboard and asks, “What is this telling me?” you likely have labeling issues. Here are a
few guidelines for effective labeling in your dashboards and reports.
➤ Always include a timestamp on your dashboard or report. This minimizes confusion when
distributing the same dashboard or report in monthly or weekly installments.
➤ Always include some text indicating when the data for the measures was retrieved. In many
cases, timing of the data is a critical piece of information for analyzing a measure.
➤ Use descriptive titles for each component. This allows users to clearly identify what they’re
looking at. Be sure to avoid cryptic titles with lots of acronyms and symbols.
➤ Although it may seem counterintuitive, it’s generally good practice to de-emphasize labels
by formatting them to lighter hues than your data. Lightly colored labels give your users the
information they need without distracting them from the information that’s displayed. Ideal
colors to use for labels are colors that are commonly found in nature: soft grays, browns,
blues, and greens.
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