Excel is commonly used, accessible to most staff with a computer,
and has a wide range of charts and graphs built in. See sidebar for
more ideas & training resources.
Tableau Desktop & Tableau Public tableausoftware.com web-based
visualization tool for creating graphs and interactive dashboards.
Tableau Public is free to use, but any data you upload and use be-
comes publicly available, so be cautious with program data but go
wild with open data sets!
ManyEyes www-958.ibm.com/software/analytics/manyeyes free,
web-based chart/graph tool
R is a free, open source tool for data management, analysis, and vis-
ualizations, including static and interactive charts and dashboards
manipulating documents based on data
Have no fear: if your tool of choice is the
ubiquitous MS Excel, you can still create
Ann Emery (http://annkemery.com/
excel) has excellent short video tutorials
in her for creating interesting graphs
using Excel and some creative maneu-
vering of data, rows, and columns.
Think about how to make your Excel
graph or chart sing: change fonts, color
palettes, and use other formatting
tricks to trick people into thinking you
used a fancy viz tool.
Think about your choice of chart types:
avoid creating pie charts, which can be
hard for the human eye to see, and con-
sider horizontal bar charts instead of
vertical ones, which give you more space
for your axis labels and categories.
AMANDA MAKULEC / John Snow Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org
sel.ly and Infogr.am offer templates
and design approaches for in-
fographics, if that’s the next step for
your viz. Infogr.am and Piktochart can
read your Excel data, making it easy to
incorporate your graph into a larger
infographic. Contact Amanda Makulec
for a slidedeck overview of the various
tools and their uses.
Timeline JS (timeline.verite.co)
allows you to create free timelines us-
ing Excel or Google Docs. Tiki Toki (tiki-
toki.com) also creates timelines, but
requires you pay for external embed
and public views.
simple network analysis visualizations.
Here’s a really cool video, showcasing
some of the program’s features. UCI-
NET. It is most often used for more
complicated analyses, whereas Gephi
is limited to really nice basic visualiza-
tion and a few typical network stats.
NodeXL. Is often used by social media
professionals who I know to map their
reach or diffusion across different net-
works. Simple and easy to use.
Sometimes you might want to create a visualization using second-
ary data. The following sites are great resources for health-
DHS Program—http://www.dhsprogram.com—Contains all
DHS datasets .
terface for downloading select DHS data in table s or visuali-
zations. Also has a mobile app available for Apple, Android &
Windows devices for on-the-go stats access!
World Bank Data—http://data.worldbank.org—includes
most WHO, DHS, and UN statistics.
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) Global
Health Data Exchange—http://
from all IHME research and others.
AIDSVu.org—Has both state and county level HIV data.
Juice Labs Chart Chooser—The tool is designed
to help you choose your chart type, and to provide
Excel and Powerpoint templates to make it quick and
easy to create and customize charts and graphs with
your own custom data.
Storytelling with Data Excel Template—Cole Nauss-
baumer’s terrific viz blog has a set of Excel templates
to download with some of her Excel workarounds
built in to make your graphs beautiful with minimal
Colorbrewer—Provides color advice for cartography
that’s applicable beyond the GIS world. Each map
view provided has been carefully designed to be a di-
agnostic tool for evaluating the robustness of individ-
ual color schemes. Full use of this tool will benefit
your map designs because colors (even very similar
colors) are easy to differentiate when they appear in a
nicely ordered sequence (such as a legend).
Color Oracle—Free color blindness simulator for Win-
dow, Mac and Linux. It takes the guesswork out of
designing for color blindness by showing you in real
time what people with common color vision impair-
ments will see.
Color-hex —Gives information about colors including
color models (RGB,HSL,HSV and CMYK), Triadic colors,
monochromatic colors and analogous colors calculat-
ed in color page for the technically inclined. Color-
hex.com also generates a simple css code for the se-
Color Palette Generator —Creates color sets based off
Design-Seeds—Gives you a space to browse designer-
quality color palettes
If you’re looking for visualization resources, tips, tricks, and
ways to connect with other visual enthusiasts, check out these
great sites & communities.
Data Viz Hub—http://www.datavizhub.co —Simple blog
&affiliated listserv for sharing examples, tools, resources,
and questions for the community.
nity for posting Excel viz issues and allowing the communi-
ty to play with your data and make suggestions for how to
improve your visualizations.