Thursday, July 3, 2008

Business Charts layout

Much is usually written about charts and layout, and I will be providing some video tutorials on how to lay them out soon, as well as using the appropriate chart types for specific data. Before that, I though I'de recover some familar ground pertaining to charts and what you need to be going for when you use them in presentations.

Look at any professional chart, be it in a newspaper publication, TV news, News Magazines, Annual reports there will always be some common traits to them. Not forgetting of course the purpose of a chart and/or diagram is that it is meant to 'simplify' the data for easier reference - not make it more complicated.

Good examples can be found everywhere - such as these examples from Bloomberg TV. A company which is data rich, often displays their charts using fairly standard principles, which can be applied to your presentations, such as:

2D: use 3d very subtely if you're going to use it but the general rule of thumb to avoid distorting data is to use 2D charts.

Background Colours: should not clash with the charts and thus end up having either traditional black & white (following most corporate templates) or other darker/lighter variations (even if they're animated they will be done with high degrees of ocpacity).

One data: should be displayed (much like one theme/message per slide) - if there are other information items, try not to clutter the chart and use subtle animation to bring points in one at a time.

Show Values: seems obvious, but clearly display the values, and this may mean re-sizing the font-size in the chart-editor. Much like normal text the value is by default something like size 12 - which is unreadable.

Chart Colours: similar to an earlier blog, try to use colours along the same hue/variation or those of your corporate colours. Don't stick with the default settings. Keep 'red' as a powerful colour indicator if you need to reference specific data - just remember 'red' is never good in finance charts!

More video tutorials on charts to follow.

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