Using Charts for Data Presentation – An Overview

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( — February 12, 2018) —  It is usually said that any information that you present in form of graphics and charts gets registered faster in minds as compared to textual representation. In this write-up, let us find out the various benefits of using charts and few essential aspects about the same.

Selecting a chart

If you are planning to opt for a chart that will be able to show you the “progress of value” over a period of time, there are 2 options you can choose from. It may be mentioned here that the usually practice is to read a chart from left to right or in other words, to choose a chart in which the axis progresses from left to the right, regardless of whether you are selecting a line chart, a column chart, or an area chart.

Column charts

A column chart can be used if you have just a few data points to represent and can be used if you have to use data for a period of 12 months. There are options for 2D and 3D styled categories you can choose from. And if there is only one sales trend that you want to show, stacked column charts are your best bet.

Line charts

As long as there are 12 or less data points that you want to present on a chart, the column chart is a good option, however, once it exceeds 12 data points, a line chart is a better option. In fact, there are hundreds of periods for which you can see the data with the help of a line chart. These charts are designed in such a way that will allow you to connect points with a straight line between markers.

Area charts

An area chart is a kind of line chart but the area just beneath it is highlighted with colors or shades of color to represent a specific timeline or series. This kind of chart is ideal for representing a portion of the time series of a line chart. Alternatively, you can also make use of chart templates prepared in MS Word for representing data.

Aside from the ones mentioned above, there are few other types of charts that you can use for data representation. These are as follows-

–  Bar charts

–  High-Low Close charts (mainly for presenting data from the stock market)

Although, pie charts are also an option but when it comes to representing data that requires time comparison pertaining to data that requires to be plotted, this is not a very good option. However, the drawback of pie chart can be overcome by using Stacked Bar chart.

Tips for presenting data in a chart

Given below are few steps that you can follow if you want to represent data in a chart. The procedure might differ depending on the volume of data and the nature of data.

  1. It is important to know the elements of the chart that you are about to plot and the significance of each. These include the plot area, chart area, data series, data points, horizontal and vertical axes, data label, and legend of the chart.
  2. Know about how to modify a chart by changing the display of chart axes, adding titles and data labels, adding legend, data table, and special fields if required.
  3. Remember charts can also be reused
  4. You can add special effects to chart elements (like 3D rotation, reflection, soft edges, and applying bevel, and so on).

Remember, a chart template will have the option for chart formatting and also saves the color scheme that has been used. As a result, when you reuse a particular template, this very color scheme is picked up for reuse and not the ones that are available with the document theme.