English
3880

Writing for Business and Industry

Fall
2014

 

Graphics reading

Week 1 (jump to week 2)

 

Guidelines for using graphics

Comments

This presents four guidelines that you need to follow when you consider including graphics within a document.

Readings

Guidelines for using graphics

Choosing the best graphic

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When graphics will help (and when they will not)

Comments

Any graphic can be classified as: navigation graphics, content graphics, or ornamental graphics. Too often, the use of graphics get lumped into the category of "graphics" and the differences between the three categories are lost.

They are all very different in the way they influence a design, are perceived by a reader, and affect the quality of your design.

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Deciding When Graphics Will Help (and When They Won't)

People's responses to the article

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Choosing a graphic

Comments

Different graphs are not interchangable and it is not matter of "I like XX graphs." You must use the proper graph to communicate the information effectively.

Readings

Choosing a graphic

 

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Photographs

Comments

Readings

Using photographs

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Illustrations

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Using illustrations

Using simple diagrams

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Tables

Comments

When a reader needs actual values, use a table. But also remember that people can't easily distiquish trends with tables.

In general, avoid the Excel graph that has both a graph and table tied together. Make a design choice on what the reader needs. The other form is just extra ink.

Readings

Guidelines for designing tables

Designing Tables 101

Designing Terrific Tables

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Line art or photograph

Comments

Readings

Line art or photograph

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2D versus 3D graphics

Comments

In general, unless you have three dimensions of data, use 2D graphics. They are easier to read.

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Problems of 3D graphs

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Misleading with perspective

Comments

Besides other issues with 3D graphics, they can distort the perspective of how the similiar different pieces appear. In this graph, with the 3D, it looks like the green and blue are almsot the same size. With the 2D graph, that is clearly not the case.

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Week 2

Annotate the graphic

Comments

Don't expect people to interpret a graphic the same way you do or to figure out the relationships by comparing the text and the graphic. Use an image program to mark it up.

If you let the person interpret the graphic without directing their attention, they might miss the part you want them to focus on or they might draw a different conclusion.

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Ethical graphics

Comments

 

Readings

Ethical graphic design and use

Whats wrong with this graph?

Great moments in deceptive graphs

Misleading Graphs: Figures Not Drawn to Scale

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Writing figure captions

Comments

Remember that figure and table captions have three parts. Figure captions go below the figure and table captions go above the table.

Readings

Writing figure captions

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In-text references of figures and tables

Comments

All figures and tables used in a document should be references in the text. Follow these rules when referencing a figure or table.

  • In-text reference style is your choice, but it must be consistent. For example, See Fig. 1. see figure 1, (fig. 1), (Figure 1)
  • The figure or table goes as soon after the in-text reference as possible (never before).
  • Start numbering figures and tables at the beginning of the document. For your purposes, simply start numbering at 1. Only use numbering like 1.1 and 2.3 when there are chapters. None of the documents in this class will have chapters.
  • Figures and tables are each numbered seperately. In other words, there will be a figure 1 and a table 1.
  • Everything that is not a table is a figure.
  • Figure captions go after the figure and table captions go before the table.

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Place the figure or table as soon after the reference as possible.

Comments

The graphic should appear as soon after the reference as possible. Ideally, it comes after the paragraph with the reference. However, because of size or the paragraph's position on the page, it might be pushed to the next page. But don't leave blank space at the bottom of a page, continue with the text and place the graphic at the top of the next page.

When you are first writing the text, just put the graphic after the paragraph that references it and move it to the proper place to control the page breaks later. The difficulty with placing graphics at specific spots on the page is problem with Word, if you get to use fancier layout programs, you'll find that it lets you simply say "float to top of next page."

When you do the final page formatting, just before printing, then you have to fill in any white space caused by the graphic so that there is not any large gaps. In this image, you'll need to move some text before the graphic to fill in the white space created because the graphic was too big to fit on the bottom of the page.

Readings

Keep the figure and caption together

 

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Legends

Comments

Excel always puts a ledgend on the graphic, but if you only have a single data set it is redudant. Then it is just chart junk

Only use a ledgend if you have two or more data sets. And make sure they have a descriptive and useful label.

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Figures must fit within the margins

Comments

Figures must fit within the page margins. It looks very unprofessional to have figures that extend into the margins.

If you have a very large image, Word and most other programs will simply put it onto the page and may even cut it off if it extends past the page edge. It is your job to make sure the graphic is properly sized.

If you are using real cut & paste (think cutting a picture out and taping it onto a sheet of paper), it is very easy to get the image in the margin unless you conciously think about it.

What you need to do:

  • Keep the figure in the margin. Reduce the image if needed.
  • Maintain proper white space around the image. It's easy to smash it against the text above or below it.

Both of these examples show the image extending to the margins.

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Too Much Data Disables Your Decision Making

Comments

Most people think they need more data so they can be completely sure about their decision. Or when they are writing a report, they want to provide lots of data, so the decision maker's job will be easy because they'll ALL of the data.

Unfortunately, people don't process data well and ignore most of it.

Graphics let you provide lots of data, but you can overload the person and actually cause worse decision making.

Readings

Why too much data disables your decision making

 

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