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Great charts rock. Lousy ones, not so much. Here’s how you can avoid the pitfalls


A picture is worth a thousand words – or is it? It seems that some charts apparently strive to be to ranked as one of the World’s Worst.

Every graph and chart in every single one of your reports MUST support good decision making to better enable business.

Decision-making is the reason for issuing reports, as wells as the reason-for being of any graph included within a report….

If the chart isn’t communicating a clear story it becomes at best just a colourful a waste of space, and at worst so confusing an unprofitable decision results.

When charts go bad

Here are three examples of the extremely horrible charts – all bad for one simple reason; they don’t tell their story clearly!

Yikes! What is this all about anyway?





Information overload!






Wow. Just wow.











These “worst chart” examples come from a “Chamber of Horrors.”

Visual media FTW!

Visual content is a huge deal right now. Since it seems the whole world is hot for charts and infographics in general, it makes sense to incorporate them into your blog posts and other media.

But, if the point isn’t clear, as in the examples above, you’re repelling readers, rather than captivating them. Using a chart is cool, but it’s got to make sense.

To be sure that you have Great Charts, simply answer “yes” to all of these key points for implementing charts:

  1. Is all the data present?
  2. Are the axis clearly visible?
  3. Do any lines intersecting the data add clarity or confusion?
  4. Is the title informative?
  5. Are the graph tags all correctly associated to the right piece of data?
  6. Is the graph simple, or are there too many dimensions (do you need two graphs)?
  7. Do all axis have scales and, do all scales start at zero?
  8. Is a message self-evident, or does the view have to make calculations/assumptions?

If you are looking for more free simple checklists to improve your SME click, from cash-flow to KPIs, check out Great Charts’ free solutions.

Eve Blackall CPA – the small business answer to The Supernanny. At Smart Accounting, you work one-on-one with Eve who has already assisted hundreds of business owners increase cash-flow, grow profits, plus ensuring those businesses fetch the highest price when it comes time to sell.