Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Using Graphs in M&E

(The pic above is from Edward Tufte's website - Ive always been a fan of his work on data visualization too!)

One of my colleagues found a really simple yet detailed explanation about uses of graphs. It is written my Joseph Kelly and it is focused on financial data, but still applicable to evaluators who work with quants.

Using Graphs and Visuals
to Present Financial Information

Joseph T. Kelley

This is from the intro:
We will focus on seven widely-available graphs that are easily produced by most any electronic spreadsheet. They are column graphs, bar graphs, line graphs, area graphs, pie graphs, scatter graphs, and combination graphs. Unfortunately there is no consistency in definitions for basic graphs. One writer’s bar graph is another’s column graph, etc. For clarity we will define each as we introduce them. Traditionally we report data in written form, usually by numbers arranged in tables. A properly prepared graph can report data in a visual form. Seeing a picture of data can help managers deal with the problem of too much data and too little information. Whether the need is to inform or to persuade, graphs are an efficient way to communicate because they can
• illustrate trends not obvious in a table
• make conclusions more striking
• insure maximum impact.

Graphs can be a great help not only in the presentation of information but in the analysis of data as well. This article will focus on their use in presentations to the various audiences with which the finance analyst or manager must communicate.


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