A picture is worth a thousand words.
This is certainly true when you're presenting and explaining data.
You can provide tables setting out the figures, and you can talk about numbers, percentages, and relationships forever. However, the chances are that your point will be lost if you rely on these alone.
Put up a graph or a chart, and suddenly everything you're saying makes sense!
Graphs or charts help people understand data quickly. Whether you want to make a comparison, show a relationship, or highlight a trend, they help your audience "see" what you are talking about.
The trouble is there are so many different types of charts and graphs that it's difficult to know which one to choose. Click on the chart option in your spreadsheet program and you're presented with many styles. They all look smart, but which one is appropriate for the data you've collected?
Can you use a bar graph to show a trend? Is a line graph appropriate for sales data? When do you use a pie chart? The spreadsheet will chart anything you tell it to, whether the end result makes sense or not. It just takes its orders and executes them!
To figure out what orders to give, you need to have a good understanding of the mechanics of charts, graphs and diagrams. We'll show you the basics using four very common graph types:
First we'll start with some basics.
To create most charts or graphs, excluding pie charts, you typically use data that is plotted in two dimensions, as shown in Figure 1.
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