The Dumbbell Plot.

Excel is an amazing tool in many ways. And for me, it’s still a go-to for complex data visualization. Even in a world where more sophisticated tools like Tableau, R or Power BI exist, Excel still has much to recommend it. As an adjunct faculty member teaching IT and business courses it’s always part of my data visualization curriculum, and there are three main reasons why.

1: It’s nearly ubiquitous. From the college campus to a small business to home computers, nearly everyone has access to Excel.

2: It’s remarkably powerful. While the basic chart options it has are certainly…


A walk-through on producing these highly useful charts in Microsoft Excel

Excel is an amazing tool in many ways. And for me, it’s still a go-to for complex data visualization. Even in a world where more sophisticated tools like Tableau, R or Power BI exist, Excel still has much to recommend it. As an adjunct faculty member teaching IT and business courses it’s always part of my data visualization curriculum, and there are three main reasons why.

1: It’s nearly ubiquitous. From the college campus to a small business to home computers, nearly everyone has access to Excel.

2: It’s…


A walk-through on producing these highly useful charts in Microsoft Excel

Excel is an amazing tool in many ways. And for me, it’s still a go-to for complex data visualization. Even in a world where more sophisticated tools like Tableau, R, or Power BI exist, Excel still has much to offer. As an adjunct faculty member teaching IT and business courses it’s always part of my data visualization curriculum, and there are three main reasons why.

1. It’s nearly ubiquitous. From the college campus to a small business to home computers, nearly everyone has access to Excel.

2. It’s remarkably powerful. While the basic chart options it has are certainly plentiful…


The power and capability of today’s visualization tools have exacerbated the timeless dataviz tension between pretty and informative

Dashboards. Seems everyone wants them, though often users don’t really know quite what they are, or how to use them. One of the issues I find in socializing business intelligence dashboards like those you can make with Tableau, Power BI or other tools of that type is that only about 20% of the employees are skilled at making them, and the other 80% consume them. So, it’s critical for the 20% to know what the 80% really need.

These tools are incredibly powerful, and with the right know-how, a skilled user can make some eye-popping visualizations that would make almost…


There are instances when a pie chart makes sense, but it takes a bit of modification and attention to get the most out of it

The “humble” pie chart (see what I did there?) really takes it on the chin these days. Mathematician John Tukey once said “There is no data that can be displayed in a pie chart, that cannot be displayed BETTER in some other type of chart.” And he’s not the only one. Edward Tufte and Stephen Few, both big names in data visualization, have both come out strongly against pie charts. And they have good reasons. The pie chart takes up a lot of space for what it actually does. And not only that, because of its shape, we’re not very…


A model for getting the most out of your visualizations

Data analytics. It’s more and more popular these days, and is almost a new buzz-word around the water cooler. Every company wants to be “data driven” and likes to use words like “analytics,” “machine learning,” “AI,” “predictive analytics,” or any of a plethora of other terms. And certainly data analysts are in demand, especially those with advanced computer skills, like programming in R, Python, or even SQL. And as more software and tools become available, more and more users are expected to generate very sophisticated and attractive visualizations for their clients.

So naturally, there’s a growing disconnect in most companies…

Mike Raper

Data and visualization is a passion of mine. I’ve worked with both for over 20 years, and teach courses and workshops on data visualization and software.

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