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A Guide to Creating Dashboards People Love to Use
Part 3: Information Design

by Zach Gemignani, www.juiceanalytics.comWednesday, November 11, 2009

Choosing the right chart type

Now we can combine these rules and our understanding of data types to show how to choose the right chart for your data. In the following table, the rows are your quantitative data type and the columns are your categorical (or quantitative) data type.

Choosing the right chart type

For another perspective on this problem, see Andrew Abela’s “Chart Suggestions” diagram (extremepresentation.typepad.com/blog/2006/09/choosing_a_good.html).

Chart Type Suggestions

Fundamentals of chart and table design

Out of the box, most charting programs break the rules for good chart design. We’ve used examples from one of the chief offenders, Microsoft Excel, to show how you can get to clean, readable charts.

1. Reduce chart-junk and increase data-to-ink ratio. These are the first two commandments of Edward Tufte. Reduce chart junk by removing elements that are decorative or ornamental. Three dimensional chart effects, for example, add nothing of value to your chart. Increase data-to-ink ratio by making every pixel tell a story about your data.

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