How to Make Useful Excel Graphs

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Discusses data visualization and information presentation in Microsoft Excel with application to other packages.

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How to Make Useful Excel Graphs

  1. 1. Don’t Let Microsoft Put Lipstick on the Pig or How to Eschew the Chartjunk and Make Great Excel Graphs
  2. 2. Excel: to Use or Not to Use?Reasons to Use Reasons to Not Use• Spreadsheets necessary • New charting engine to running a business • Poor default choices by• Data already in Excel Microsoft• More charts in Excel • Confusing array of than all other shades, colors, backgrou applications combined nds and options © Stan Siranovich 2010 2
  3. 3. Pie Charts • Purpose? • Info is not 3-D • Tilting adds nothing • Shading and shadows add nothinghttp://www.perceptualedge.com/articles/b-eye/excels_new_charting_engine.pdf © Stan Siranovich 2010 3
  4. 4. Bar Charts • Purpose? • Tapering, rounding, u seless depth and shading • Chartjunk – superficial decoration with no regard for the datahttp://www.perceptualedge.com/articles/b-eye/excels_new_charting_engine.pdf © Stan Siranovich 2010 4
  5. 5. “Ginzu Graphs” • Emphasis on meaningless visual effects • Encourage to treat graphs superficially • Obfuscates the informationhttp://www.perceptualedge.com/articles/b-eye/excels_new_charting_engine.pdf © Stan Siranovich 2010 5
  6. 6. What to Do?• Remember the objective – “It’s the data, stupid.”• Recognize that less is more• Start with a good, clean default layout• Modify the default only when necessary © Stan Siranovich 2010 6
  7. 7. "The only worse design than a pie chart is several of them." Edward Tufte • Four factors: year, region, share, to e • Must scan back and forth between charts • Information is hiddentoe – tons oil equivalentOECD - 30 developed economies, including USA and EuropeEME - Emerging Market Economy countriesFSU - Former Soviet Union countriesOther EMEs - EMEs less China and FSU countries http://processtrends.com/toc_chart_doctor.htm © Stan Siranovich 2010 7
  8. 8. “Death to Pie Charts!” William Eddy of Carnegie-Mellon University, ASA Committee on Energy Statistics • Three increasing, three decreasing • China and other EMEs – greatest increase • FSU – greatest decreaseOECD - 30 developed economies, including USA and EuropeEME - Emerging Market Economy countriesFSU - Former Soviet Union countriesOther EMEs - EMEs less China and FSU countries http://processtrends.com/toc_chart_doctor.htm © Stan Siranovich 2010 8
  9. 9. “Death to Pie Charts!” William Eddy of Carnegie-Mellon University, ASA Committee on Energy Statistics • US and Europe – decreasing shares • Other OECD – slight increaseOECD - 30 developed economies, including USA and EuropeEME - Emerging Market Economy countriesFSU - Former Soviet Union countriesOther EMEs - EMEs less China and FSU countries http://processtrends.com/toc_chart_doctor.htm © Stan Siranovich 2010 9
  10. 10. "The only worse design than a pie chart is several of them." Edward Tufte © Stan Siranovich 2010 10
  11. 11. Review• Remember the objective – “It’s the data, stupid.”• Recognize that less is more• Start with a good, clean default layout• Modify the default only when necessary © Stan Siranovich 2010 11
  12. 12. Stamp Out Chartjunk! © Stan Siranovich 2010 12
  13. 13. Lake Woebegone Presidential Poll http://www.perceptualedge.com/articles/b-eye/excels_new_charting_engine.pdf © Stan Siranovich 2010 13
  14. 14. AcknowledgementsFurther Reading Websites • Stephen Few • http://www.perceptualed • Edward Tufte ge.com/ • Stephen M. Kosslyn • http://www.daheiser.info • Naomi B. Robbins, Ph.D. /excel/frontpage.html • Mastering Layout: mike • http://www.practicalstats stevens on the art of eye .com/index.html appeal © Stan Siranovich 2010 14

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