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Data visualization used to be the prerogative of data scientists and professional designers, but today, with the right resources, anyone can create presentations and spreadsheets replete with charts and graphs that tell a compelling story. With this in mind, we developed the Ultimate Charts (Part 2) spreadsheet template that includes plenty of spreadsheet models and tools to assist you in effective data visualization and delivery.

Sheets highlights

The great thing about Excel is that it allows region, country, states and city names in map charts. Use sheets like this one to insert and manipulate geographic data. (Names should be precise and correct for Excel to recognize the area). For more like this, check out our Ultimate Charts (Part 1) spreadsheet template.

This sheet includes important Radar charts. Radar Charts can be used to compare two or more items or groups on various features or characteristics and draw conclusions for better-informed and more effective decision-making.

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We've created a new collection of more advanced and visually appealing spreadsheets to save you hours of time. Included in this Ultimate Charts (Part 2) collection are bar chart variations, sales funnel variations, pie chart variations, world map, step-change charts, variance charts, scatter chart and radar charts, all easily editable and conveniently linked to data input tables.

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Expert advice

Scott Berinato, a Senior Editor at Harvard Business Review and the author of "Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations," knows a thing or two about the power of data visualization. In his interview for The Marketing Journal, Berinato answers the important questions about data visualization that you can apply in your day-to-day processes.

Where does one get started?

Grammar is important, but I advocate for starting by setting your context, Berinato says. He recommends spending some time establishing what you want to say, to whom and in what setting, first. "It's striking how often we skip right to creating charts for a presentation without really putting in effort into honing the idea we want people to come away with. That means you end up with charts that visualize spreadsheet cells instead of ideas," he says.

What makes a good chart?

According to Berinato, a good chart consists of excellent contextual awareness and good design execution. Contextual awareness means representing ideas in a clear, simple way that's accessible to the audience. If you get your context right, many of those design decisions take care of themselves. Berinato says: "When you see a good chart, it's not good because it's designed well, it's designed well because it's good."

How a chart can influence decision-making?

As an example, Berinato shows to audiences a set of bar charts that were presented by a consultant aiming to help a client choose between four strategic scenarios (this is the context). A consultant is standing in front of the clients in a boardroom trying to demonstrate what will come of revenues and margins in the four scenarios. However, there is a big problem: the bar charts labels are too small to read on a screen; the bars are multi-colored, and on top of that, the Y axes don't match on the revenue and margin bar charts. Charts like this can't be used to make important decisions. "We revised them, and the revised version is just so much more usable by using clear labels and a type of chart that makes it very easy to compare revenues to margins and scenario to scenario. It's night and day," Berinato says.

Is visual communication really a must-have skill for all managers?

Seeing how the use of visuals helped, I started gathering stories of others who had seen their careers take off when they invested in learning data visualization skills, Berinato says. These people recognized that in their businesses' day-to-day operations, visualization becomes the only way to make sense of all the data. Being able to make good charts helps them advance their career, as well as create a competitive advantage for companies. Berinato says: "I also think that in the loud, crowded world of mobile, social, and really constant communication, effective viz has become a way to cut through the noise and make an impression."

If you haven't already checked out our previous collection of charts, go visit the Ultimate Charts (Part 1) spreadsheet template for more.

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