The world is drowning in data. Everyday we generate so much amount of data from the connected world around us. Data has been touted as the new gold, the ‘oil of the 21st century’. But data in itself is incomplete; the figures alone does not make any sense unless we organise it into something that will give us relevant information.

Presenting large and voluminous amount of data is an art. It is where data visualisation comes in; where we summarise and organise large amounts of data in a way that can easily be understood.

There are many tools online that can be used to create a wide variety of data visualisations. But even with the abundance of tools that we have, data visualisation can prove to be a challenging task. Data comes in many formats and there is no single approach that will catch all possible ways of presenting them nicely. However, here are some notes to keep in mind when doing data visualisations.

01: What do you want to display & convey to the reader?

Keep a clear view of what you are presenting and how you want your users to see it. Do you need to compare values, do you need to show composition, do you need to compare trends for a given data set? A common mistake in data visualisation is to present or compare things that are different in nature; comparing ‘apples to oranges’ so to speak.

02: Gather & organise your data

Make sure your data is in a format that can easily be referenced and ported. A good starting point would be to convert it into a table or a csv file. Once converted into a more organised format sort it out further by determining which columns or rows can be removed or included in what you are trying to present.

03: Select right chart type

Now that you have the data to use the next step would be to determine how you want to present it to your users. A starting point would be to lay out your data using basic charts first and see if it captures what you are trying to tell your readers. Avoid crowding your chart with too much data.

04: Add supporting indicators

Highlight areas that needs to stand out in your chart. Use the appropriate colors that are readable and add proper labels. When comparing multiple data points, using contrasting colours are suggested to provide more clarity.

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