Wednesday, October 10, 2012

60 Steps Revisited: Step 57 - Use Simple Figures

Back in 2009, I did a series of posts covering the excellent book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. The book is published by the US DOJ's Problem Oriented Policing Center (POP Center). Because of the value I think this book has for crime analysts, and policing in general, I am going to re-post this series on here on the blog.

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.
Next time, we'll look at Step 58 - Organize powerful presentations.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I reserve the right to remove defamatory, libelous, inappropriate or otherwise stupid comments. If you are a spammer or are link baiting in the comments, a pox be upon you. The same goes for people trying to sell stuff. Your comment will be deleted without mercy.