Anatomy of a chart

When designing a presentation chart,  you should focus on clarity and credibility above all else.  In order to best explain what I mean by clarity and credibility, I’ve put this visual anatomy of a chart together.

Anatomy-of-a-PPT-slide

 

 

Clarity:

Hierarchy of titles is clear.  The overall message of the page (the top line that says “message or topic title…”) is the largest and boldest.  These titles should be placed in the same spot form page to page in printed or projected decks, except in rare cases where each and every page is heavily and well designed by a presentation designer.

The sub-title, sometimes referred to as a major, is the second largest text on the page.  Sub-titles or typically used to title data charts or columns on a page.

All data-points should be labeled consistently so readers have an easier time reading your chart.

White space is important!  Make sure there is consistent white space around all of your objects so your readers can see your chart items more clearly.  If objects are too close together, nothing is legible.

Follow your guidelines.  A great way to ensure consistent white space is to create a grid, like the red lines on the sample chart.  You’ll see that all text is lined up along a certain margin, Nothing goes outside of the main box, etc.  A more advanced designer will likely have a more advanced grid for all titles, sub titles, measures, stickers, source notes, columns, etc.

Credibility:

All data sources should be noted in a consistent location throughout your pages.

You should scale your chart.  Are your data points in millions?  billions?  inches? Euros?  Make it clear.

If you have more than one chart on a page and those charts should be compared, make sure they have the same scale.  Charts with different scales can be confusing to your audience.

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