It’s pretty easy. Most word processors and spreadsheets have a push-button wizard and you can create charts and graphs in seconds. There are endless options and formatting choices.
However, that doesn’t mean that you are communicating clearly. Consider this chart:
1) It is too busy. The 1990 Gallup poll tells us nothing.
2) The timeline moves opposite of every other chart/graph in the world, with new data on the left and older data on the right.
3) It tells us more information than needed…giving us the useless “no answer” category along with but two stats in the middle that hardly changed.
Let’s try to rework the chart into something easier to understand:
But, this chart still doesn’t work hard enough to communicate clearly.
Footnotes belong in the footnotes, along with links to the underlying data in case we want to see for ourselves.
After we keep working with the chart, we can finally achieve a story well told…
The next time you are building a chart, do the hard work to tell your story. Don’t settle by dazzling everyone everyone with your ability to throw a bunch of data into lines, bars, or pies, or segments.
Thanks for listening.