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Excel® 2007 Charts by John Walkenbach

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Chapter 12. Avoiding Common Chart-Making Mistakes

In This Chapter

  • Various ways in which a chart can be inaccurate

  • Potential problems related to using an inappropriate chart type

  • Chart complexity

  • Stylistic and aesthetic considerations

  • A chart maker's checklist

In a perfect world, every chart you create is a work of art that communicates a message clearly, efficiently, and unambiguously. In the real world, of course, charts are subject to a wide variety of problems.

This chapter discusses some frequent problems related to charts, and it may help you avoid some common pitfalls — and create more effective charts.

Know Your Audience

Every chart has an audience or a potential audience. In some cases, the audience is only yourself. But in the majority of cases, the charts you produce will be viewed by others — in the context of your Excel workbook, or perhaps in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, Part of a printed report, or a Web page. The finished product (that is, the chart) should be geared toward its intended audience.

Key points to consider include the following:

  • The accuracy of the data: A chart can present data that is perfectly accurate, yet can be very misleading in a number of different ways.

  • The complexity of the information presented: A general rule of thumb: Those higher in the corporate pecking order typically desire more simple information. When you're faced with a decision to make a simple chart or a complex chart, a simpler chart is often the better choice. In some cases you ...

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