How to make your graphs look better

A guideline for creating visually appealing graphs that communicate important information at a glance.


Before you start designing a graph (or anything for that matter) you have to know who your audience is and, more importantly, what the goal is. In this case, it’s visualizing data.

Understanding Information Hierarchy

Remove Backgrounds

Background gradients and colors can be distracting. You want the chart to be the main focus of the graphic so make sure that the background is neutral.

Remove Redundant Labels

Elements only need to be labeled once. If you’re audience needs multiple labels for one element, chances are they aren’t going to be able to understand the information anyways.

Remove Borders

Your graph doesn’t need to be constrained to boxes. Keep the design minimal so the information can speak for itself.

Reduce Colors

Not only does this make your graph look much cleaner, it allows your audience to focus on the most important information right away.

Remove Special Effects

Special effects are often added to grab the audiences attention but you’ll find it does exactly the opposite.

Remove Bolding

When it comes to formatting, less is more. Bold, italics, and underlining don’t add to the graphic so with the minimal mindset, they are actually taking away.

Lighten Labels and Lines

Lightening both labels and lines increase the readability of the graphic and once again allows the audience to take in the most important information first.

Direct Label

Direct labeling categorizes the information simply so that the reader can quickly understand the data without having to look for a “key” or “legend”.

Results

Clients and coworkers don’t want to spend extra time deciphering your graph. Save everyone time and look more professional. Remember, less is more; effective, attractive, and impactive.

In Conclusion

Keep in mind that information has a hierarchy, some information is more important than other information. Make something that conveys the most important to the least important. Simplicity is not only more attractive, but more effective.


My name is Sid Edwards. I’m a designer, developer, creative, and a writer. I have a passion for perfection and I love bringing solutions to everyday problems. I use chopsticks whenever possible and exclusively drink San Pellegrino.