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Chapter 9. Presenting Numbers by Using D... > Understanding Chart Types and Purpos...

Understanding Chart Types and Purposes

Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks you face is to determine what type of chart you need to create. Essentially, you need to decide how the numbers can best be presented to communicate the right message. Sometimes you’re limited by the numbers you have at your disposal. You can even be hampered by having too much information, in which case you have to decide what’s most important to represent.

Consider, for example, Figures 9.4 and 9.5. If you’re interested in showing how the travel budget is eating up everything else, a bar chart showing travel expenses isn’t going to help much, especially because the high equipment cost in the third quarter is what grabs the viewer’s attention. However, a pie chart that shows nearly 40% of the budget being devoted to travel indeed can convey the appropriate message, especially if you enhance that portion of the pie by exploding the slice (that is, pulling it away from the other slices) or by adding a color or pattern that stands out.


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