Charts can be used to display all sorts of information in a colourful and eye-catching way, but it’s a thin line between giving succinct data and showing a confusing and unintelligible mess instead. There are many ways to mess up a graph, but starting it right will make it less likely that it will go awry later.
The most fundamental part of creating your chart is deciding upon what form it will take and that might depend on what data you are trying to show. If you get this wrong you’re likely to end up giving misleading information and just confusing people.
When it comes to conveying information, charts and graphs present a huge amount of interesting and practical material. They are generally easy to read and offer a snapshot of interesting facts in a single graphic. The main problem is that there aren't that many spreadsheet and graph authoring programs around. Sure there’s MS Office – but it’s kind of expensive - and there’s Open Office too, but that’s somehow, just a cheap version of MS Office and though it does many of the same things, it’s slightly, well, quirky. Keen to find something cheap - and preferably free - and very user friendly when I wanted to generate a graph, I decided to head over to Chartblocks.com and use the free on-line tools, rather than crank up Office 2010 again.