Don’t just make charts the way boss wants. Use Recommended Charts

There are two types of charts. First type is a chart which you create to interpret data more effectively. The second type is more common. These charts are created billions of times everyday – why? Because boss wants it that way!

In this article, I am going to attempt to change the mindset of all users of Charts. Please spend 5 minutes of your time reading this article and trying out a new thought process. I am confident that it will add value to your life.

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Photo credit: Elsie esq. / Foter / CC BY and salendron / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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Caution: Visual Interpretation Error in Data Analytics

We have seen how to put data bars in Excel (Bar charts with a difference). These help us compare any value with any other value visually. This helps us understand patterns in the data.

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If not used properly, this great feature can lead to confusion and misinterpretation as well. Here are common scenarios and the solutions.

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Quick Analysis should NOT be done quickly!

Read the previous article to understand the context of this article. Quick Analysis gives you many types of data visualizations instantly. But that is NOT the real benefit. The real benefit – as usual – is elusive and difficult to grasp in this “instant” mode of living life.

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Read on to find out what you are missing – even if you know how to use Quick Analysis!

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Instant, Interactive 3D mapping of your data – Power Map

image It is now possible to create interactive 3D maps from your data right within Excel.

Power Map is a part of Power BI series of tools. It is free, powerful and wonderful.

Let us dive into it and see how it can transform the way we understand information.

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High, Medium, Low – visual categories – In-Depth

Please read the previous article so that you understand the context of this article.

In the previous article we saw how to divide available data into three categories: High, Medium, Small. In this article we will explore how to refine this process and have up to 5 categories of classification. We will also see how business context helps you decide the type of visualization.

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Show High, Medium, Low values in few clicks

We get lot of data and reports every day. Usually, to understand the information easily, we draw charts. Nothing wrong with that. Except that there are other methods available which may be more effective. Here is one such method which divides the data into three categories – high, medium and low.

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Mini Charts : Sparklines : Usage scenarios

Please read the previous article about Sparklines before reading this article.

Financial statements

Typical financial statements show data in reverse order. Current year first followed by past years.

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You have to read each number from right to left and then compare them mentally to form a pattern. Then we read each row and try to correlate it with other rows.

Now see the same data with Sparklines.

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Problem: Chart is visually in reverse order

Look at the Operating Income. At the first glance it looks as though it is decreasing over time. But in reality, it is increasing over time – data is in reverse order.

To avoid this visual confusion, choose the Sparkline Tools –
Axis options – Plot from right to left. Problem solved.

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Comparing Quotations, Specifications, Scores

Any kind of comparison can be performed visually using Sparklines as long as the data is numeric.

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Notice how it helps you see a clear difference across the models without reading the numbers. It highlights the winner clearly and without ambiguity.

How does it happen? Because it takes the minimum value across the row as the beginning of the axis. Usually all bar charts start with zero. However in this case, the Power bar chart is starting at 177. Therefore the smaller value becomes visually insignificant.

Due to this visual contrast, it is easier to interpret the information. Of course, remember that this may lead you to underestimate actual values. If you want true to life representation of proportions, traditional charts are better.