Chartering BarCharts

Chartering BarCharts

This BlogPost was written by Andre Speek. Click here for other BlogPosts.

In my Post about 3D PieCharts I talked about how they can make the same numbers look different. And since a good report should be about the numbers, not about nice visuals, I tend to avoid them whenever I can.

With BarCharts you can also manipulate how the numbers are viewed. But this is not a Post on how to manipulate your audience. It is about how you should be aware of this when creating or viewing reports.

Size Matters

With BarCharts it is all about the size. Let's have a look at some examples where I have shown the same monthly Sales results in 3 different options:

On the left I made the BarChart pretty narrow but very high. This causes the Bars to stretch and it is very clear that the results in the last month of the year are not that good.

On the top right, I made the BarChart as wide as possible and pretty low. The decrease in Sales Results is still visible, but it is less dramatic than can be seen on the left.

Many reporting tools have the option to show a cumulative BarChart. With this, every Bar is a sum of that Bar plus the previous Bar. When you see a cumulative BarChart, you should be alerted. It is a perfect way to disguise the decrease in Sales Revenue as can be seen in the BarChart on the bottom right.

So yes, the same numbers can look slightly to dramatically different because of the way you present them. When you are creating reports, always show them as they are.

Making them look better for presentations is something we consultants should leave to the Marketing Department... 😉

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