In this post we're up to Step 57 - Use simple figures in our journey through the book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. The past several chapters I've posted on deal with communicating effectively. Being able to communicate effectively is so critical to the role of a crime analyst that it is often included in the job descriptions I see from agencies that hire crime analysts.
In my last post we looked at Step 56 - Use simple tables. Closely related to tables are figures such as charts. In fact, in Microsoft Excel, where many analysts generate their charts and graphs, there are a number of default chart options that include tables with the charts or figures. But the same advice we saw given by the authors in the last step, "keep it simple" applies in this step also.
The authors go over a number of example charts and point out what makes them good or bad. I would encourage you to hit the link and read the whole chapter. One of the best parts of this chapter is this list of advice for Designing Effective Figures:
- Keep them simple. Don't over-package.
- Do not use superficial effects, like 3-D.
- Avoid pie charts.
- Use bar charts for data that comes in categories.
- Use line graphs for trends over time.
- Use labels effectively.
- Choose titles carefully.
- Make them stand on their own, without help from the text.