Chapter 7

Where to Go from Here

Now that you’ve learned about data, how to represent it, explore it visually, enhance clarity, and design for an audience, the obvious next step is to put it into practice. Grab your data and visualize.

Visualize with what though? There are lots of tools at your disposal. The one that’s best for you depends on your data and what you want to do with it, but most likely it’ll be some combination of the ones in this chapter. Some are good for quick looks at your data, whereas others are better for wider audiences.

Visualization Tools

There are two main groups of visualization solutions: nonprogrammatic and programmatic. The offerings for the former used to be restricted to a handful of programs, but as data resources grow, more click-and-drag tools spring up to help you understand your data.

Microsoft Excel

The familiar spreadsheet software is universal and has been around for decades. Heck, the first time I used Excel was a couple of decades ago, and I still use it sometimes, if only because a lot of data is made available as an Excel spreadsheet. It’s easy to highlight columns and make a few charts, so you can get a quick idea of what your data looks like.

Note: If you use Excel for the entire visualization process, work with chart settings to improve clarity. Default settings rarely fit the bill.

That said, I wouldn’t use Excel for thorough analysis or graphics made for publication. It’s limited by the amount of data it can handle at once, ...

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