12. Charts & Tables

Create clear and convincing internal communications, strategic plans, research reports and other boardroom-style slides.

Charts & Tables  

Every chart tells a story, but if you just use whatever chart Excel spits out you won’t be telling the story. Excel doesn’t know the story; only you do. So, don’t accept Excel’s defaults.

Modify Excel’s default charts by removing mumblers, ordering the data intelligently and using the principles of Picture and Wallpaper to highlight the important details and subdue everything else.

Consider horizontal bar charts over column charts because they allow you to sort highest to lowest and write the bar labels clearly. You can also create small multiples and use your limited slide space best.

Avoid pie charts when a bar chart makes more sense. Pie charts are only good when one pie slice is clearly larger than the others, but it is not good for highlighting precise differences.

Line charts should contain no more than 3-4 lines (there’s the rule of chunking again) and grouped in some intelligent way that helps to tell the story.

Tables can be modifed in the same way, to subdue the Wallpaper and highlight the Picture, so you can tell a story with data.

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