Using Graphs and Other Visuals


Visual Aids
y Visuals help make numbers meaningful and help

communicate your point in oral presentation, memos, letters, reports and meetings. y Visuals can present numbers dramatically. y Investors on stocks¶ performance will not want to read paragraphs after paragraphs of statements about which stocks went up and which went down. y Organising the numbers into tables would be more useful.

y Now on the internet offers

subscribers Market Map 1000, a graphic tool that helps them see the top performers. y Market Map display visual information about each companies performance. y Each company is shown in a rectangle. The larger the rectangle, the larger the company¶s market capitalisation. y The blocks are also colour-coded to signify the stock price change.

When to Use Visuals
y Use visuals only to achieve a specific purpose. y Never put in numbers or visuals just because you

have them. y Use them to convey information the audience needs or wants.

In Rough Draft, Use Visuals:
y To see that ideas are presented completely.

table can show whether you¶ve included all the items in a comparison. y To find relationships.  For example, charting sales on a map may show that the sales representatives who made quota all have territories on the East or the West Coast. 


To Make Final Presentation, Use Visuals:
y To make points vivid.

skim reports and memos; a visual catches the eye. The brain processes visuals immediately. Understanding words (written or oral) takes more time. y To emphasise material.  Certain materials might be skipped if it was buried in a paragraph, usually things in the middle of a long document. Visual allows material to be emphasise wherever it falls. 


y To present material more compactly and with les

y You will use visuals when you want to show

relationships, to persuade, when the information is complex or contains extensive numerical data and when the audiences values visuals.

Designing Visuals
y Six Steps: a) Check the source of the data. b) Determine the story you want to tell. c) Choose the right visual for the story. d) Follow the conventions for designing typical visuals e) Use colour and decoration with restraint. f)

Be sure the visual is accurate and ethical.

Check the Source of the Data
y Be sure that your data come from a reliable source. y If the data themselves are unreliable, better not to

use the visuals. y The visual picture will be more powerful than verbal disclaimers, and the audience will be mislead.

Determine the Story You Want to Tell
y Every visuals should tell a story. y Stories that tell us what we already know are rarely

interesting. y Good stories should: a) Surprise you or challenge so-called common knowledge. b) Show trends or changes you didn¶t know existed. c) Provide information needed for action. d) Be personally relevant to you and the audience.

To Find Stories«
y Focus on a topic y Simplify the data on the topic and convert the

numbers to simple, easy ± to ± understand units. y Look for relationships and changes.

Comparison: Samsung Galaxy Tab vs. the iPad
y If we comparing both devices according to their

specs, the differences are evident in the fact that Galaxy Tab has many things that the iPad doesn¶t have like a front and back camera, ability to use as a phone and it has the option of expandable storage. But the great thing about the iPad is that it has amazing apps in the App Store that we don¶t think any other device can match

Apple iPad

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Camera None Phone TV out Battery life GPS Flash support No Yes Up to 10 hours In 3G model No

3.2-MP rear camera 1.3-MP front-facing camera Yes, with speaker or Bluetooth Yes Up to 7 hours Yes Yes

Choose the Right Visual for the Story
y Good writers choose the visual that best matches the

purpose of presenting the data. y Use a table when readers need to identify the exact values.

y Use a chart/graph when you want readers to focus

on relationships. y Pie chart to compare a component to a whole.

y To compare items overtime use a bar chart.

y To show frequency or distribution.

y To show correlation, use a dot chart.

y Use photograph to show authenticity or show the

item in use. y Use drawings to show dimensions or emphasize details. y Use map to show location. y Use Gantt chart to show timelines for proposals or projects.

Gantt Chart

Follow the Conventions for Designing Typical Visuals
y Every visual should contain 6 components: a) A title that tells the story the visual shows. b) A clear indication of what the data are. c) Clearly labeled units. d) Labels identifying colours, symbols etc. e) The source of data, if the visual was created from

someone else data. f) The source of visual if you reproduce a visual someone else created.

y Use tables when you want the audience to focus on

specific numbers. y Use common, understandable units. Round off to simplify the data. y Put items you want readers to compare in column rather than in rows. y When you have many rows, double-space after every 5 entries.

Pie Chart
y Use pie chart when you are comparing one segment

to the whole. y Start at 12 o¶clock with the largest percentage. Go clockwise to each smaller percentage. y Limit the number of segments to no more than 7. The least important segments can be combine and named µmiscellaneous¶ or µother¶ category. y Label the segments outside the circle.

Bar Charts
y Use horizontal bars when labels are long. y Put the bars close enough to make comparison easy. y Label both horizontal and vertical axes. y Make all bar the same width. y Put all the labels inside or outside them. y Use different colour for different bars only when

their meaning are different.

Line Graphs
y Label both horizontal and vertical axes. y When time is a variable, put it on the horizontal axis. y Avoid using more than 3 lines in one graph.

y Photographs convey a sense of authenticity. y The photo of a devastated area can suggest the need

for government grants or private donation. y Never write or mark on a photo. y A growing problem is photos are now often edited and staged purporting to show something as reality even though it never occurred.



y Sketches omit details which would distract the

readers from the main points. y Sketches are good to help processes.



Gantt Charts
y Gantt charts are bar charts used to show schedules. y Colour-code bars to indicate the work planned and

work completed. y Use a red outline to indicate critical activities. y Use diamonds to indicate progress reports, major achievements or other accomplishments.

Use Colour & Decoration with Restraint
y Colour makes visuals more dramatic but it creates at

least 2 problems: a) Readers try to interpret colour and the interpretation might not be correct. b) Meanings assigned to colours differ depending on the audiences¶ national background and profession.

y Masculinity in United States. y Criminality in France. y Strength and fertility in Egypt.

y Danger or stop in United States. y µGo¶ in China and is associated with festivals. y Masculinity in France. y Death in Korea.

y Caution or cowardice in the United States. y Prosperity in Egypt. y Grace in Japan. y Femininity in many parts of the world.

y People in specific professions learn other

meanings for colours.

y Financial managers: Reliability. y Engineers: Water or coldness. y Health care professionals: Death

y Financial managers: Losing Money. y Engineers: Danger. y Health care profession: Healthy.

y Engineers: Safe. y Health care professionals: Infected.

Be Sure the Visual is Accurate and Ethical
y Always double check the visuals to be sure the

information is accurate. y Many visuals have accurate label but misleading shape. y Visuals communicate quickly, people remember the shape not the labels. y If readers need to study the labels to get the right picture, it is unethical even though the labels are accurate.

Chart Junk
y The chart implies that engineers are young, nerdy

looking and white men. y The photograph makes it difficult to compare the numbers. y The number represented by the tallest figure is not 5 times as great as the number represented by the shortest figure, yet the tallest figure takes up 12 times as much space and appear even bigger than that.

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