Key principles for good chart design

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At some point, we’ve all used charts to demonstrate trends and relationships between numbers.

However, using the wrong format can lead to confusion and even wrong decisions.

It has happened to me so many times. I knew my ideas or findings were powerful but I wasn’t able to translate them into clear, sharp messages that engaged my audience. Over time I learnt that picking the right chart was crucial to showing relationships more easily and effectively, demonstrating to my audience all key information in a more compelling way. So I stopped rushing into the design side of things and thought more carefully about joining the what and the how dots.

The common data relationships

I’ll share now a couple of examples from our Filtered courses, to find out which corresponding charts are appropriate – and which aren’t.


How do the sales of vegetables compare?

This type of chart doesn’t add any clarity to the data it is representing. The 3D format, which initially seemed like a cool option, makes it difficult to reference the data columns against the axes.

Whereas this format makes it easier to compare the sales figures of each vegetable.

Frequency contribution

What proportion of our target audience has incomes between $800 and $900 per week?

This format requires looking back and forth between the pie chart and the key, and it’s not possible to see the ‘shape’ of the frequency distribution.

On the other hand, this layout places more emphasis on our target and enables quick comparisons.

The number of presentation tools available is endless. Whichever you use, remember to consider the relationship between your data and the chart when choosing the design.

Paolo Lenotti is the Head of Marketing & PR at

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