Ann's Blog Equipping you to collect, analyze, and visualize data

More than Looking “Pretty” – Matching Graph Colors to Branding

More than Looking “Pretty” – Matching Graph Colors to Branding

Adding color to graphs is simultaneously the easiest and absolute hardest technique to nail. Color is about much, much more than simply making your graphs look pretty. When used well, color can enhance branding, guide viewers’ eyes to the most important pieces of the graph,…

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The Simplification & Emphasis Approach to Editing Graphs

The Simplification & Emphasis Approach to Editing Graphs

I teach about data visualization a lot. And it basically comes down to two techniques: simplification and emphasis. Here’s a default graph with fictional data: First, simplify the graph. Remove the border. Remove the horizontal grid lines. Remove the vertical axis. Remove the legend. Remove…

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How to Place Labels Directly on Top of Your Line Graph

How to Place Labels Directly on Top of Your Line Graph

I recently discussed four options for labeling line graphs. A personal favorite is to place the labels directly on top of the data points, like this: There’s been a lot of interest in this labeling technique, so here’s your step-by-step tutorial!   First, set up…

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Sorting and Filtering Your Spreadsheets

Sorting and Filtering Your Spreadsheets

Have a list of words that need some alphabetizing? Have a list of numbers that you want to arrange from least to greatest or greatest to least? Rather than painstakingly rearranging your rows by hand, let Excel’s Sorting and Filtering features do the heavy lifting…

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One Dataset, Five Line Charts

One Dataset, Five Line Charts

I recently partnered with a group of public health researchers. We were brainstorming different ways to display the number of new HIV infections in each subgroup. The organization wanted to compare HIV infections among men who have sex with men (MSM), African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and injection…

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When Pie Charts Are Okay (Seriously)

When Pie Charts Are Okay (Seriously)

Within the past year, I’ve led 60+ in-person and virtual workshops for 2,800+ participants. Most of these trainings have focused on data visualization best practices and how-to’s; other topics have included dashboard automation, research methods, and data analysis. I can always tell when someone has…

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Shortcuts for Formatting Peoples’ Names in Your Spreadsheets

Shortcuts for Formatting Peoples’ Names in Your Spreadsheets

Have a spreadsheet full of employee contact information? Demographic data for people in your community? A list of classmates attending that upcoming reunion? Most of our spreadsheets contain peoples’ names at some point in the project lifecycle. Here are a few shortcuts for dealing with text…

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Axis Labels, Data Labels, or Both? Four Line Graph Styles to Consider

Axis Labels, Data Labels, or Both? Four Line Graph Styles to Consider

Data visualization is more about strategic thinking than about following steadfast rules. Take a simple line graph, for example. How will you label your line graph? With vertical axis labels and light gray grid lines? With labels directly above or on top of the data…

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What Type of Handouts Will Accompany Your Presentation?

What Type of Handouts Will Accompany Your Presentation?

Some of you are responsible for writing formal reports for external audiences, and all the dissemination strategies that go along with formal reports, like press releases and transmittal letters. And some of you are responsible for sharing information with internal audiences, which typically happens in…

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Be Careful with the Y-Axis…

Be Careful with the Y-Axis…

I was recently working with an organization to improve their graphs for an upcoming conference presentation. Notice anything funny about the height of these bars? The shortest bar, for 2012, represents 26,000 youth. But the tallest bar, for 2010, represents 27,000 youth. 26,000 and 27,000…

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