Using tables and charts in your spreadsheets is about displaying your data in the most effective way possible. Tables help group your data together clearly while charts are a visualisation of your data, displaying any trends and relationships within it.
Modern charts as we know them were invented by a political economist called William Playfair. Between 1706-1801 he made the first bar chart, line chart, and pie chart

Things to consider

Before you start arranging your raw data into colourful tables or creating nice looking charts there are a few key concepts you should think about first. If you don’t, your sheet can quickly become ineffective in displaying what you need to. It’s worth considering the following:

  1. Think about what types of data you’re working with and pick your charts accordingly. Text, dates, costs, percentages, or whatever values you’re dealing with will benefit more or less from certain chart types.
  2. What are you trying to communicate with your data visualisation? What trends or relationships do you want to highlight? Which elements do you want to compare? The end goal of what you want to display should inform how you arrange or visualise your data.
  3. Who is going to be viewing this data and what exactly do they need to see? Different colleagues within the company might want to see different trends from the same data.

Top Tip

Remember the 10 second rule! The person viewing your tables or charts should be able to understand what the data visualisation represents within 10 seconds! If not, it’s likely to be too complicated or too busy.

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