All articles with 'charting principles' Tag

CP004: Can I Pie Chart in Public? Discussion about Pie charts, their merits and drawbacks, when to use & when to avoid them

Published on Apr 3, 2014 in Chandoo.org Podcast Sessions, Charts and Graphs
CP004: Can I Pie Chart in Public? Discussion about Pie charts, their merits and drawbacks, when to use & when to avoid them

In the 4th session of Chandoo.org podcast, lets talk about Pie charts.

Pie charts evoke strong opinions among analysts & managers. Some people love them and can’t have enough of them in reports. Others despise them and go to any lengths to avoid them. And that is why we are going to talk about them in this session.

You will learn,

  • Special, secret transmission from guest stars
  • What is a pie chart?
  • Why they work? 2 reasons
  • Why they don’t work ? 4 reasons
  • Cousins & siblings of Pie charts
    • Donut charts
    • Gauge charts (speedometer)
    • 3D pies
    • Area charts
    • Bubble charts
  • 4 Situations when making a pie chart is ok
  • Alternatives to Pie charts
  • Mistakes you should avoid
  • About the resources
  • Conclusions
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6 Best charts to show % progress against goal

Published on Mar 10, 2014 in Charts and Graphs, Learn Excel
6 Best charts to show % progress against goal

Back when I was working as a project lead, everyday my project manager would ask me the same question.

“Chandoo, whats the progress?”

He was so punctual about it, even on days when our coffee machine wasn’t working.

As you can see, tracking progress is an obsession we all have. At this very moment, if you pay close attention, you can hear mouse clicks of thousands of analysts and managers all over the world making project progress charts.

So today, lets talk about best charts to show % progress against a goal.

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I won’t eat donut with a thread inside, but lets make one anyway!

Published on Feb 20, 2014 in Charts and Graphs
I won’t eat donut with a thread inside, but lets make one anyway!

Today lets take a stroll outside what Excel can do and make something fancy, fun and may be useful.

Nowadays, many newspapers, websites and magazines are featuring info-graphics. An info-graphic is a collection of shiny, colorful & data-full charts (or often pieces of text.) In many of these info-graphics, you can see threaded-donut charts. Not sure what that is..? It is not same as the blasphemy of spoiling a soft, sweet, supple donut with a piece of string. No one should be excused for an offense like that.

What I am talking about is shown above

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42% of the world goes to polls around a pie chart – Like it or hate it?

Published on Jan 10, 2014 in Charts and Graphs
42% of the world goes to polls around a pie chart – Like it or hate it?

Today lets have a poll. Lets debate if this pie chart about world elections in 2014 is good or bad.

First lets take a look at the chart

This chart, published by The Economist talks about how 42% of the world population is going to vote this year. Take a look and read on to learn how you can re-create this in Excel.

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Closing gaps in this Gender Equality Gap chart…

Published on Nov 5, 2013 in Charts and Graphs
Closing gaps in this Gender Equality Gap chart…

Today lets close some gaps.

Recently I saw this interesting chart on Economist Daily Charts page. This chart is based on World Economic Forum’s survey on how women compare to men in terms of various development parameters. First take a look at the chart prepared by Economist team.

So what are the gaps in this chart?

This chart fails to communicate because,

  • All country charts look same, thus making it difficult to spot any deviations.
  • We cannot quickly compare one country with another on any particular indicator.
  • It does not provide a better context (for eg. how did these countries perform last year?)

But criticizing someone’s work is not awesome. Fixing it and making an even better chart, that has awesome written all over it. So that is what we are going to do. You can see the improved chart above. Click on it to learn how you can create it.

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5 simple rules for making awesome column charts

Published on Aug 29, 2013 in Charts and Graphs
5 simple rules for making awesome column charts

For every column chart that is done right, there are a dozen that get messed up. That is why lets talk about 5 simple rules for making awesome column charts.

Tip: Same rules apply for bar charts too.

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Never use simple numbers in your dashboards (bonus tip: how to fix default conditional formatting)

Published on Jul 11, 2013 in Charts and Graphs
Never use simple numbers in your dashboards (bonus tip: how to fix default conditional formatting)

Pop quiz: What is wrong with above report?

At first glance, it looks alright. But if you observe closely, you realize that it is not telling the entire story. Just looking at regional sales numbers, you have not much clue what is going on with them.

So how to improve it?

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10 Rookie mistakes to avoid when making dashboards [video]

Published on Apr 25, 2013 in Charts and Graphs

Are you making these 10 rookie mistakes when creating dashboards?

Watch below to video to understand what these mistakes and how to avoid them.

10 Rookie mistakes to avoid when making dashboards [23 mins]

10 Rookie mistakes to avoid when making dashboards - watch the video

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Some charts try to make you an April fool all the time (or why 3d pie charts are evil)

Published on Apr 12, 2013 in Charts and Graphs
Some charts try to make you an April fool all the time (or why 3d pie charts are evil)

Recently I saw a big screaming ad that said “the chartbuster rules”. Of course, I know that chartbusters rule. Not just because I was one of them :)

So I got curious and read on. And I realized the ‘chartbuster’ is actually a car, not some cool, spreadsheet waving, goatee sporting dude like Jon Peltier. What a bummer!

And then to my horror of horrors, I saw the exploding 3d pie chart, with reflection effects & glossy colors. And the sole purpose of the chart is to create an impression that Verna sells better than any car in India.

Today, lets talk about this chart and alternatives for it. Read on.

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Use Advances vs. Declines chart to understand change in values

Published on Feb 21, 2013 in Charts and Graphs
Use Advances vs. Declines chart to understand change in values

Lets say you are responsible for sales of 100s of products (which belong to handful of categories). You are looking at sales of each product in last month & this month. And you want to understand whether sales are improving or declining by category. How would you do it?

Turns out, this is not a difficult problem. In fact, this question is asked every day & answered using Advances vs. Declines chart.

You may have seen this chart in financial newspapers or websites. Shown above, Advances vs. Declines chart tells us how many items have advanced & how many have declined.

Read on to learn how to create this chart using Excel.

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How the tax burden has changed over the years – Excellent chart by NYTimes & Redoing it in Excel

Published on Dec 6, 2012 in Charts and Graphs

If I need some charting inspiration, I always visit New York Times. Their interactive visualizations are some of the best you can find anywhere. Clear, beautifully crafted and powerful. Long time readers of Chandoo.org knew that I like to learn from visualizations in NY Times & redo them using Excel.

Today let me present you one such chart. This is based on an interactive visualization prepared by NY Times explaining how the tax burden has changed over years for various income groups.

Take a look at tax burden chart – Excel implementation
Tax burden over years chart - recreated in Excel

Read on to learn how to create this chart using Excel.

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Pie of a Pie of a Pie chart [Good or Bad?]

Published on Nov 9, 2012 in Charts and Graphs
Pie of a Pie of a Pie chart [Good or Bad?]

There are some charts that look so stunning and yet confusing. You cant make up your mind whether it tells a compelling story or it is just plain wrong.

Today, let me present you one such chart. I call this Pie of a Pie of a Pie chart.

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Use Indexed charts when understanding change [Charting Techniques]

Published on Oct 9, 2012 in Charts and Graphs, Excel Howtos
Use Indexed charts when understanding change [Charting Techniques]

Today, lets talk about indexing, a technique used to compare changes in values over time.

What is indexing?
Lets say you want to compare prices of Gold & Coffee over last few years. Gold price in 2011 (oct) is $1,655 per ounce. And now (sept 2012) it is $1,744. Like wise, Silver price in 2011 is $32.06 and in 2012 it is $33.61. How do we compare such diverse numbers?

Enter indexing.

First we need to calculate price of Gold and Silver in 2012 assuming their starting price is 100. This can be done with simple arithmetic.

Now, we can easily compare the prices. Looking at the indexed prices, we can conclude that both Gold & Silver prices have gone up by similar percentage (~5%).

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Speeding up & Optimizing Excel – Tips for Charting & Formatting [Speedy Spreadsheet Week]

Published on Mar 21, 2012 in Charts and Graphs, Excel Howtos
Speeding up & Optimizing Excel – Tips for Charting & Formatting [Speedy Spreadsheet Week]

Is Excel acting slow & taking ages? As part of our Speedy Spreadsheet Week, today lets talk about optimizing & speeding up Excel by formatting & charting better. Use these tips & ideas to super-charge your sluggish workbook.

No matter how much data you got, how many formulas you wrote, the end users seldom see them on your workbook. They see the finalized dashboard, they play with the model, they look at the report. And if you make poor choices, your end users will thing your workbook is slow.

So let me present you 7 charting & formatting tips to optimize & speed up Excel. Read on…,

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Simple KPI Dashboard using Excel

Simple KPI Dashboard using Excel

Any Tom, Dick and Sally can make things complex. It takes guts and clarity to simplify things. That is why I was pleasantly surprised to see this dashboard prepared by Michigan State. You can see it in the detailed article.

Linda, one of My Excel School students shared this dashboard link with me and asked if I can show how to construct something like this. Here is my version of the dashboard.

Read this post to learn how to construct a similar dashboard on your own. Also, you can download the excel workbook and play with it.

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