Tips on Making Graph Reports
Everybody needs to generate a graph once in a while, whether it is a graph of a mathematical function for school or a chart representing the earnings for the second quarter. Some people use specialized tools in their field in order to generate graphs, sometimes from data gathered at a specific point in time, sometimes from live data that updates the graph in real time. Others are quite satisfied using generic tools like report builders and spreadsheet software that are able to generate graphs from the given data. Whatever the tool used, they are just tools. While they certainly make creating graph reports simpler and sometimes even more fun, the most important parts of the job still remains with you. Here are some tips for making effective graphs:
- The data is of utmost importance. Graphs are merely visual representations of data. The focus is on the data itself, not on how pretty or sophisticated your graph report is. Double check that your data is accurate and make sure that your graph is actually reflecting that data. Even the most beautiful and interactive graph report in the world will fail if it’s showing statistical data about the weather, when your doing a presentation on weather reporters.
- Be mindful of your colors. They say that presentation is everything. But while data is indeed more important, the colors you choose could distract viewers from properly interpreting the data. Do not use colors that “blend in” with its neighbors, as that could create ambiguous interpretations. But don’t use too much colors that would make your graph look like a psychedelic lava lamp that will make your audience want to tear their eyes out.
- Do not overload your graphs. The reason why graphs are used instead of presenting raw numbers is to make it easier to digest the information at a glance. A graph becomes useless if it is too crowded to be able to efficiently interpret the data. If possible, try to plot only the key points or make use or make use of the proper graph type that best represents your data. For example, use a 3D scatter plot graph instead of a bubble graph to graph large amounts of data using three values.
With these broad, common sense tips, you should be ready to get that graph software started and start creating that perfect graph report to wow your audience.