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You may not have paid much attention to it, but the abundant use of charts have slowly made them a significant part of our personal and professional lives in various ways.
We use a chart for practically everything these days—to interpret the findings of a research paper, to record the number of people present at an event, or to delegate tasks to every member of the household through a chore chart. But with the many chart types available, how can you determine which ones to use to best cater your purpose?
There are several components that make up a chart. Each of which serve a distinct purpose in the conveyance of a message. Knowing how these elements function in your chart will help you understand why and how they should be used.
1. Title: Every chart should have a clear and specific title. This specifies what the data in the chart represents for readers to be guided. This is usually positioned at the upper-center portion of the chart so it would be the first thing that people see as soon as they lay eyes on the chart.
2. Chart Area: The chart area refers to the rectangular space where the points, labels, axes, and grid lines are shown. Here, data is visually interpreted for readers to absorb.
3. Plot Area: The space within the chart area is known as the plot area. This is where you can plot the series and grid lines of your chart.
4. Points: This would depend on the type of chart you are creating. Bar charts, for instance, use bars to convey information; however, scatter plots, line charts, and progress charts often use points to show the gradual change in a variable over a period of time. And when a related group of data points are plotted on the chart, it then forms a series.
5. Legend: A chart must always come with a legend. This indicates the function of each item on the chart for readers to be guided. Without it, the chart may be interpreted a lot differently than what the creator of the chart had intended.
6. Labels: This is added not only to describe a data point, but to depict what the item on the axis represents. This is usually generated automatically if a custom label isn’t provided.
There are two ways to create a chart: you could either make one in a program like Microsoft Excel or customize a downloaded template to have it meet your desired requirements. Whether you choose one over the other, the guidelines below may help you communicate your message successfully.
1. Figure out what type of chart you need to translate your data in such a way that readers could easily understand.
2. Once you have determined what you need, open MS Excel on your computer. Click Insert and select Recommended Charts to see a preview of the charts available.
3. Find the chart you planned on using. You can also check out a few other chart options by selecting the All Charts tab of the menu.
4. Select the chart you need and click OK to add it to your work space.
5. Plot your data points and edit the necessary elements of the chart to complete it. When you’re satisfied with the outcome, save the document to your computer or have it printed directly from the program used. This leaves you with a template that you could use whenever the circumstance calls for it.
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of creating a chart, let’s see how you can enhance the apperance of your chart not just to make it easy to look at, but to help you deliver the necessary information effectively.
When presenting information to an audience, consider what you want them to take away from the presentation and what you can do to make those points stand out. Different types of charts are best suited for certain circumstances. Thus, choosing a chart that will clearly and concisely communicate your information is essential to the success of your presentation.
1. Bar Graphs: These are used to present numbers that are independent of each other. You can choose between a vertical bar chart and a horizontal bar chart to interpret data, depending on the number of categories to be covered.
2. Pie Charts: Pie charts allow you to show readers how a whole is divided into different parts. Pieces of the pie typically follow an order based on their size or percentage which add up to a total of 100%. You could, for instance, use the chart to show members of a team how your annual budget had been spent on various items within the given time period.
3. Line Charts: Line charts make it easier for you to portray how a variable has changed over time. They are mostly used when you have data that are relative or connected with one another, and to show the changes in trends within a specified period. Managers and project leaders often use these charts to evaluate their performance so far. Like if you’re creating a sales report, the amount your company has managed to generate over the past year may be reflected on the line chart.
4. Cartesian Graphs: Widely used in the field of mathematics, Cartesian charts gives you a glimpse of how changes in one variable may affect the other. This also allows you to visualize the distance between two points on a graph based on their position from the two axes.
5. Funnel Chart: Funnel charts are often used to exhibit how something moves through the different steps of a process. This starts with a value of 100% and progressively decreases toward the end to depict how something drops out of the process as it passes through each stage. Funnel charts are often used for tracking sales conversions in a sales pipeline.
A chart can come in the form of a map, a diagram, or a graph. When you chart something, you’re basically creating an outline of the data it represents. This can be a record of medical information, a visual interpretation of the data generated from a study, or a process showing the steps of an event or activity. This leaves you with a summary of information which you can easily absorb at a glance.
Walk into almost any business meeting and you’re likely to have a chart as the center of your discussion. This describes an important subject concerning the business that the entire group must analyze and solve together. This can be anything from a project flowchart for an upcoming venture to a price chart for a proposed product or service line. Either way, this makes it easier for viewers to digest and understand the information being presented.
Chart and graphs are similar in some ways but different in others. You see, all graphs are charts, but not all charts are graphs. That’s because a chart offers you a wide variety of methods for presenting information. Graphs, on the other hand, only provide you with a single method of conveying data through a visual format. You’ll also notice how graphs show the relationship between mathematical data for a more accurate analysis.
And there you have it! With the help of these templates and examples, you can present your data to an audience without much effort.