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!
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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
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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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