Programs: Microsoft Excel: Lesson #2


Lesson #2: In this lesson we will learn about the different types of charts and graphs there are and their advantages and disadvantages.
The main topics of lesson #2 are:
  • Pie Charts
  • Exploded Pie Charts
  • Three Dimensional Pie Charts
  • Column/Bar Charts
  • Line Charts
  • Combination Charts
  • Simplicity of the Message
Lesson #2: What are some different types of charts that are available to you?
Topic # 1 Pie Charts

Definition: A pie chart presents information in proportions, out of a 100 or as part of a whole. The values are usually given in percentages (%).
Advantages: Pie charts have several advantages to them. They are both an informative way to depict proportional statistical information and allow for easy comparisons.  
Disadvantages: These would be that they can only depict up to 8 slices without causing confusion.  Anymore that that could mislead readers and not convey the message you are trying to get across.  Also, categories that represent less than 5% of the whole cannot be easily distinguished in the graph.
Topic # 2 Exploded Pie Charts
Definition:  There really isn’t a big difference between a pie chart and an exploded pie chart. An exploded  pie chart’s slices are separated to show more emphasis on each slice.
Advantages: The emphasis placed on information, therefore it allows to convey the idea, or the goal much more effectively.
Disadvantages: The fact that too much emphasis can be misleading and distracting is a small disadvantage.
Topic # 3 Three Dimensional Pie Charts
Definition: A 3 dimensional pie chart is simply displayed in 3-D form. You can see the profile of the chart for a better visual effect!
Advantages: The visual effect of the chart makes the presentation look better, more attractive. It dramatically helps to emphasize the data.
Disadvantages: Too much of “cool” graphics may distract the reader from understanding the information which the presenter is trying to convey.
Topic # 4 Column/Bar Charts

Definition: Column and Bar charts are used to present information in real numbers. Such as 20 dogs, 15 chips, 10 bicycles, etc.
Advantages: It shows exact quantities in real numbers, so you don’t have to convert percentages into number as with pie charts. Thus, the information is much more distinct and obvious. 
Disadvantages: If the category labels are too long, they may not fit completely on the x-axis without making it too crowded.  The range of the y-axis numbers and the inexactitude of bars make it difficult to determine the exact value.
Advantages: Bar charts help in making the categories stand out from one another, therefore making it easier to compare each category. It allows for more space in labeling the axis.
Disadvantages: The problem with placing category labels on the y-axis is that humans are more used to interpreting numbers on the y-axis. Therefore, it takes away the attention from the actual numbers, and may confuse the reader.
Topic # 5 Line Charts
Definition: All of you have seen a line chart at some point in your life, maybe even everyday! It plots points and then connects them with a line.
Advantages: The lines are continuous and that is a benefit when dealing with data derived from time. It also allows for easy comparisons between different lines.


Disadvantages: Having multiple lines in the same chart can prove to be a bit confusing to an inexperienced interpreter. It is also difficult to plot data that is not continuous on these types of graphs.
Topic # 6

Combination Charts

Definition: The name of the chart practically speaks for itself. It presents two or more different types of graphs at the same time on the same plane.
Advantages: It displays various sets of data at the same time, allowing for complex comparisons to be made. And it allows for different scales to be used for different data.
Too much complicated, strange data may confuse the reader and it also makes it difficult the emphasize the main point of the graph display.
Topic # 7

Simplicity of the Message

nIn order to convey the message clearly, keep the graph/chart as simple as possible.
nAs simple as it may be, the chart will be most effective if everyone can understand it n

Lesson Review

In this lesson you learned:
  • To identify different types of charts by their definition, the advantages and the disadvantages of each type: Pie charts, Exploded Pie Charts, Three Dimensional Pie Charts, Column/Bar Charts, Line Charts, Combination Charts
  • The importance of being clear and straighforward

back to lesson #1

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Programs: Microsoft Excel: Lesson #2