Statistic Basics: Choosing a Graph Style
When using data, the way you represent the data graphically and the choice of graph style is important and often depends on what you are trying to show with the graph. The best way to choose is to understand what each graph is used for and then to try the different graphs with your data.
To the right is the budget data used in a previous blog about pie charts in Excel and below is the pie chart.
A pie chart is best for showing what percent of the whole that each item in the budget represents. You can do this with a 3-d pie chart (below left) or a donut or sunburst chart (below right).
With the sunburst chart the labels are on each segment instead of listed below with associated colored boxes.
Bar Graphs are useful when comparing the different items in the budget to each other as seen in the two figures below. In one the bars are all the same color and the other graph each bar is a distinct color. We can see which item takes up the most money and how each item compares to the others but we no longer see what percent it is of the whole. The bar graph on the left takes the title of the 2nd column from the data chart as does the 3-d chart above left and the original pie chart but the bar graph on the right and the sunburst chart need to be given a title. If you click on the ‘Chart Title’ while in Excel you will be able to change the name of the chart to ‘Monthly Budget’ or whatever you choose.
Graphs can help give a report emphasis or help you to visualize your personal budget in a variety of ways so that you can emphasize different aspects of the data to gain a better picture of what the data is showing.