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    The Simplification & Emphasis Approach to Editing Graphs

    Jan 26th, 2016 / Data Visualization / , , , , , , , , ,

    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:
    simplification-and-emphasis-1
    First, simplify the graph. Remove the border. Remove the horizontal grid lines. Remove the vertical axis. Remove the legend. Remove the title. Remove the color!
    simplification-and-emphasis-2
    simplification-and-emphasis-3
    simplification-and-emphasis-4
    simplification-and-emphasis-5
    simplification-and-emphasis-6
    simplification-and-emphasis-7
    Once your graph is naked, you’re done simplifying.
    Second, emphasize your message with text. Add direct labels. Add a descriptive title. Add a descriptive subtitle. Make sure the text is hierarchical; the title is largest and the subtitle and labels are smaller.
    simplification-and-emphasis-8
    simplification-and-emphasis-9
    simplification-and-emphasis-10-b
    Third, emphasize your message with color. Leave the software program’s default color scheme at the door. Instead, enhance branding by matching your graph’s color palette to your organization’s logo. I’m facilitating a workshop for The Evaluation Group this week, so here’s their exact shade of blue.
    simplification-and-emphasis-11-b
     
    Simplify by removing unnecessary ink. Then, emphasize your message with text and color. That’s all, folks!
    simplification-and-emphasis-before-and-after-2
    Want your company to practice the simplification and emphasis approach with your own datasets? Contact me to schedule your in-person workshop or virtual webinar. 
     
     

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