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Effective Data Visualization

Effective Data Visualization
The Right Chart for the Right Data

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April 2016 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Written by sought-after speaker, designer, and researcher Stephanie D. H. Evergreen, Effective Data Visualization shows readers how to create Excel charts and graphs that best communicate data findings. This comprehensive how-to guide functions as a set of blueprints—supported by research and the author’s extensive experience with clients in industries all over the world—for conveying data in an impactful way. Delivered in Evergreen’s humorous and approachable style, the book covers the spectrum of graph types available beyond the default options, how to determine which one most appropriately fits specific data stories, and easy steps for making the chosen graph in Excel. 

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1. Our Backbone: Why We Visualize
Why We Visualize  
When Visualization Is Harmful  
Which Chart Type Is Best?  
How to Use This Book  
2. When a Single Number Is Important: Showing Mean, Frequency, and Measures of Variability
What Stories Can Be Told With a Single Number?  
How Can I Visualize a Single Number?  
How Can I Show Measures of Variability?  
3. How Two or More Numbers are Alike or Different: Visualizing Comparisons
What Stories Can Be Told About How Two or More Numbers Are Alike or Different?  
How Can I Visualize How Two or More Numbers Are Alike or Different?  
4. How We Are Better or Worse Than a Benchmark: Displaying Relative Performance
What Stories Can Be Told About How We Are Better or Worse Than a Benchmark?  
How Can I Visualize How We Are Better or Worse Than a Benchmark?  
5. What the Survey Says: Showing Likert, Ranking, Check-All-That-Apply, and More
What Stories Can Be Told About What the Survey Says?  
How Can I Visualize What the Survey Says?  
Visualizing Not Applicable or Missing Data  
6. When There Are Parts of a Whole: Visualizing Beyond the Pie Chart
What Stories Can Be Told When There Are Parts of a Whole?  
How Can I Visualize the Parts of a Whole?  
7. How This Thing Changes When That Thing Does: Communicating Correlation and Regression
What Stories Can Be Told About How This Thing Changes When That Thing Does?  
How Can I Visualize How This Thing Changes When That Thing Does?  
8. When the Words Have the Meaning: Visualizing Qualitative Data
What Stories Can Be Told When the Words Have the Meaning?  
How Can I Visualize When the Words Have the Meaning?  
9. How Things Changed Over Time: Depicting Trends
What Stories Can Be Told About How Things Changed Over Time?  
How Can I Visualize How Things Changed Over Time?  
10. It's About More Than the Buttons
Dot Plots Generate Healthcare Pioneers  
Clearly Labeled Line Graphs Streamline Decisions at a Fortune 500  
Diverging Stacked Bars Make for Community Leaders in the Midwest  
Icons Support Informed Policymaking  


Student Study Site

Use the Student Study Site to get the most out of your course!
Our Student Study Site at is completely open-access and includes selected color images from the book.

This text brings data visualization in to the twenty-first century. It is a definitive guide for students and practitioners in presenting data with clarity and lucidity.

David Boyns
California State University at Northridge

Very approachable writing style, clear examples and instructions make this a “must-have” for anyone who has to present data.

Thomas Cappaert
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions

I love this book. It opened me up to so many possibilities that I didn’t know existed in Excel. The author really helps you build these skills though thoughtful exercises. She uses her real-world experience to open the “black-box” behind graphing techniques. I can’t wait to use these skills for my next batch of research projects. The competition at the professional conferences will be amazed by our ninja skills.

John O. Elliott
The Ohio State University and OhioHealth Research Institute

This run-to-read and easy-to-use book can boost your visual presentation by making it right to the point!

Shun-Yung Kevin Wang
University of South Florida - St. Petersburg

Effective Data Visualization sets a new standard for the practical presentation data using Excel. It provides impressive graphics and hands on details on when and  how to present them to various audiences. Any instructor who works with students seeking an advanced professional degree should consider adopting this text.

Brian Frederick
Bridgewater State University

This book is an excellent guide for creating innovative and intentional graphics that can frequently speak for themselves. Stephanie not only shows you how to create visually appealing charts and graphics, but she also explains why it matters.

Mindy Hightower King
Indiana University

Clearly written, concise, and easy to understand.

Dr Billy R McKim
Agricultural Education Dept, Texas A & M Univ-Clg Station
August 16, 2016
Key features

  • The “Chart Chooser” one-page diagram located on the inside cover serves as a quick reference for readers to choose the right chart for their data.
  • Step-by-step instructions with screenshots for data visualization development in Excel demonstrate exactly how to make graphs with impact.
  • An engaging organization of chapters features the kinds of stories that can be told about a data set, relying on common research questions and presentation intentions.
  • Graphs accompanied with a “ninja rating” indicate difficulty level for producing graphs in Excel.
  • Success stories showcase how creating effective data visualization is a way to create organizational culture change, beyond simply producing charts and tables.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 5

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For instructors

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