alternatives to pies

My disdain for pie charts is well documented. While opinions on their usefulness run the gamut, I am certainly not alone in my contempt. In my workshops, I sometimes get the question, "In what situation would you recommend a pie chart?" For me, the answer is never. There are a number of alternatives, each with their own benefits. It's these alternatives that I'll focus on in this post.

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strategies for avoiding the spaghetti graph

It seems that I have a distaste for any chart type that has food in its title. My hatred of pie charts is well documented. Donuts are even worse. Here's another to add to the list: the spaghetti graph. They look like someone took a handful of uncooked spaghetti noodles and threw them on the ground. There are a few strategies for taking the would-be-spaghetti graph and creating more visual sense of the data. I'll explore three such strategies here.

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no more excuses for bad simple charts: here's a template

If you're using Excel to try to tell a story with data, plotting the data in this application should be the first step in your data visualization process, not your last. It takes time, iterations, and sometimes some brute force to get from the graphing application's defaults to a visual that you're proud to present.

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the waterfall chart

I find waterfall charts to be useful when you are interested in visualizing a starting quantity, positive and negative changes to that quantity, and the resulting ending quantity. I like waterfall charts, so I thought it might be useful to do a post focusing on them: what they are, an example use case, and how to use what I like to consider "brute-force-excel" to create them.

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how to do it in Excel

One common piece of feedback I get after presenting on the topic of data visualization goes something like this:  Wow, that was super useful. I'm never going to use pie charts again. But when it comes to the graphs, how do you actually make them look like that? I'm not! Let me take a few minutes to walk step-by-step through an example to expose those who question their Excel expertise to some of my tricks.

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