No matter what, we can’t avoid data. They are part and parcel of any form of documentation. There is no better way to visualize data than through charts.
Most of us are guilty of using default charts that automatically pop up when entering data and we often don’t improve upon the default chart.
Does it matter that you do not take that extra effort? Yes, it does because that effort will make all the difference to what you say. And, if you are about to give an important presentation that involves a lot of data, it matters that much more.
After all, you don’t want to bore your audience to death!
So here we are with a guide that will tell you how you can create great visuals with charts.
We have picked the most popular charts in PowerPoint 2016, and we will go through each one of them step-by-step.
How to Use Chart in PowerPoint 2016
In case you are a new user of PowerPoint 2016, here is how to get started:
- Open PowerPoint, under the Insert tab, select Chart and choose the chart you want. A new Excel worksheet will automatically open.
- If you already have ready data, copy and paste your data into the chart area. If not, you can start by adding your data to the excel sheet.
- Adjust the data range using the selection handles on the lower right corner. Your chart will adjust accordingly.
Fixing the axis:
- Right click on Vertical Axis and select Format Axis.
- Go to Fill and Line.
- Select the Line Option.
- Click on Solid Line and choose the color you prefer to use.
- Adjust the width of the line accordingly.
- To add tick marks, go to Axis Options → click the Tick mark option and select the Major Type and choose the Outside option from the dropdown list.
- Use the same process to format the Horizontal axis.
Fixing the bars:
To change the color of the series (bar) right click on any series and select Format Data Series.
- Go to Fill and Line.
- Select the Fill Option.
- Click on Solid Fill and choose the color you prefer to use.
- If you want to apply line color, select the Line Option and select the color you prefer.
If you want to add a data label:
- Click on Chart → Design tab of the Chart Tools → Add chart elements → Select the Data Labels option. You will get multiple options to display it.
Visualization of Charts
1. Bar Charts and Column Charts
Bar Charts and Column Charts are very versatile and most commonly used to show changes over time and comparisons between different categories. The only difference between the two is that Column Charts are vertical and Bar Charts are displayed horizontally.
What you should do when visualizing bar and column charts
- Always start the Y-Axis value from 0.
- Avoid rotating the horizontal axis labels as this will make them hard to read.
- Avoid using too many colors in a chart – it can be distracting. To use colors effectively, you may use an accent color to highlight a significant data point.
- Adding tick marks (both for horizontal and vertical axis) helps differentiate between the categories easily.
- For a cleaner and professional look, it is advisable to set the line width of Horizontal and Vertical axis to 1/2pt.
- Vertical Bars measure discrete quantities. When the bars are too narrow, your eyes focus on the negative space, the space between the bars which carries no data.
2. Pie Chart and Doughnut Chart
Pie charts and doughnut charts are circular charts that are divided into slices which shows how much each section/division contributes towards the ‘whole’. As the names imply, these charts look like pies and doughnuts.
Pie charts and doughnut charts are used to show percentages or proportional data. Usually, the percentage represented by each category is provided next to the corresponding slice in a chart. Pie charts are good for displaying data for around six categories or fewer. The total value of the chart is always 100%.
What you should do when visualizing Pie Charts and Doughnut Charts
- Do not keep the data labels outside the pie graph if the numbers can fit inside the graph.
- Avoid using unnecessary effects in the chart (like shadows, 3D effects, bevel or any gradient fill). These visual accents can be very distracting to the reader.
- When highlighting a section of a pie chart, use a bold outline or use a color that is significantly different from the other colors so that the section stands out.
- If there is a lot of information that you want to display, you can use a legend instead of overloading the chart with information.
- If you do not have much information to display in a chart, it is advisable to integrate the labels and category within the chart for ease of reading.
- Never segment the chart clockwise from smallest to largest. It’s intuitive to start at 12 o’clock and go clockwise.
- Make sure the data points add up to 100%.
3. Line Charts
Line charts display information as a series of data points called markers which are connected using a straight line. These charts show growth and downfall and can also be used to compare changes over the same period of time for more than one group.
What you should do when visualizing Line Chart
- If you are using 2-line charts, make sure that you always set the Y-axis to the same value so that you can see the difference between the charts. If needed you can combine more than one data set and create a single graph.
- Add Markers while using Line charts, as that makes it easy for the reader to identify the growth and downfall for each category.
- Avoid using dashed or dotted lines as they can be distracting. Instead use solid lines.
- Don’t plot more than four lines, if you need to display more, either break them out into separate charts or use a different chart.
- Avoid using dashed or dotted lines for Horizontal or Vertical axes, it can be distracting. Instead use solid lines.
4. Area Charts
Area charts are similar to line charts but the only difference is that in these the area between the line and the threshold is filled. Area charts can also be used to compare changes over the same period of time for more than one group. These charts show growth and downfall.
Area charts are widely used in marketing reports to show comparisons from month to month.
What you should do when visualizing an area chart
- In area charts ensure data isn’t obscured in the background by ordering thoughtfully and using transparency.
- In stacked area charts, arrange data to position categories with highly variable data at the top of the chart and low variability at the bottom.
Even if the data you enter in the excel does not add up to 100, the 100% stacked area chart will automatically add it up to 100%.
In addition to the above commonly used charts, Office 2016 have a few new charts you can pick from.
You can never make do without charts. They are the best way to visualize and communicate information that is represented by numbers. Charts make data comprehensible.
Charts are an important part of all business presentations. You just have to avoid using the default feature available in all presentations.
Visualizing charts creatively brings data to life.