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clip art illustrations to three-dimensional bar charts that really display only two dimensions of data (see Figure 16.1). • Expectations. Culture, education, and other experiences condition people to ex pect things to look certain ways, and these expectations can affect the way peo respond to your visuals. Green is a color easily associated with money in the United States, but not so in countries that print currency in red, blue, yellow, an other colors. A red cross on a white background, the logo of the International R Cross, symbolizes emergency medical care in many countries. However, since cross is also a Christian symbol, the International Red Cross uses a red crescent in Islamic countries. 6 The best time to think about the principles of good design is before preparing your sual aids; making changes after the fact increases the amount of time required to p duce them. Various types of messages call for various types of visual aids.

Use tables to help your audience understand detailed information.

Selecting the Right Visual Aid for the Job

Once you've decided on the general design features for your report or presentation, y can begin developing the individual visual aids. Be sure to choose the specific fo that best suits your message and that communicates your message most clearly to yo audience.


When you have to present detailed, specific information, choose a table, a systemati arrangement of data in columns and rows. Tables are ideal when the audience needs facts, all the facts, and when the information would be either difficult or tedious to han die in the main text. Most tables contain the standard parts illustrated in Figure 16.2 (see page 512) What makes a table a table is the grid that allows you to find the point where two fac tors intersect. So every table includes vertical columns and horizontal rows, with use ful headings along the top and side. Tables projected onto a screen during an oral pre sentation should be limited to three column heads and six row heads; tables presente on paper may include from one or two heads to a dozen or more. If the table has t many columns to fit comfortably between the margins of the page, turn the paper hor izontally and insert it in the report with the top toward the binding. Although formal tables set apart from the text are necessary for complex infor mation, you can present some data more simply within the text. You make the table,' essence, a part of the paragraph, typed in tabular format. These text tables are usuall introduced with a sentence that leads directly into the tabulated information. Here's example: Half the people surveyed are very concerned about artificial coloring in the prepackaged foods they eat. Women and older people are most concerned: Men Women Adults 18-49 Adults 50-65


Percentage Who Are Very Concerned 44 53 49 55

Percentage Who Are Slightly Concerned 40 39 40 32

Coloring in Prepackaged Food," Food Processing News, January 1995, 113

Chapter 16: Developing Visual Aid



Monthly Sales


Simplify Graphics to Avoid Cutter and Confusion These two charts show the same information but the second one is' cluttered with useless decoration. The threedimensional bars don't show anything more than the simple twodimensional bars in the first chart.

• v.



• •



Figure 16.2 Parts of a Table

TABLE 1 Title

Multicolumn Head Subhead Subhead XXX XXX

SingleColumn Head* XX

SingleColumn Head XX

Stub head Line head Line head Subhead XX XXX XX XX X Subhead XXX Totals XXX XXX XX Source: (in the same format as a text footnote; see Component Chapter B) *Footnote (for explanation of elements in the table; a superscript number or small may be used instead of an asterisk or other symbol)

XX XX XX letter

When preparing a numerical table, be sure to identify the units you're using: dollars, percentages, price per ton, or whatever. All items in a column are expressed in the same unit. Although many tables are numerical, word tables can be just as useful. They are particularly appropriate for presenting survey findings or for comparing various items against a specific standard. Use line charts • To indicate changes over time • To plot the interaction of two variables

Figure 16.3 Line Chart with Broken Axis

Line and Surface Charts

A line chart illustrates trends over time or plots the relationship of two variables. In line charts showing trends, the vertical axis shows the amount, and the horizontal axis shows the time or the quantity being measured. Ordinarily, both scales begin at zero and proceed in equal increments; however, in Figure 16.3, the vertical axis is broken to show that some of the increments have been left out. A broken axis is appropriate when the data are plotted far above zero, but be sure to clearly indicate the omission of data points. A simple line chart may be arranged in many ways. One of the most common is to plot several lines on the same chart for comparative purposes, as shown in Figure 16.4. Try to use no more than three lingson any given chart, particularly if the lines cross. Another variation of the simple line chart has a vertical axis with both positive and negative numbers (see Figure 16.5). This arrangement is handy when you have to illustrate losses* Figure 1 Most Participants Are in the Moderate Income Bracket

Under 10



20-25 25-30 Income of Participants (in thousands of dollars)




Chapter 16: Developing Visual Aids 513 • •

Figure 1 Big

Market Share, Little Cars Gain

Figure 16.4 Line Chart Plotting Three Lines

XC/5 V















A surface chart is a form of line chart with a cumulative effect; all the lines add up to the top line, which represents the total (see Figure 16.6). This form of chart helps you illustrate changes in the composition of something over time. When preparing a surface chart, put the most important segment against the baseline, and restrict the number of strata to four or five. Bar C h a r t s A bar chart is a chart in which amounts are visually portrayed by the height or length of rectangular bars. Bar charts are almost as common in business reports as line charts, and in some ways they're more versatile. As Figure 16.7 illustrates, bar charts are particularly valuable when you want to Compare the size of several items at one time Show changes in one item over time +15%

Arte •


+ 10% +5% 0



10% 1990*



*First-year profit WAS approximately $97,000.





A surface chart is a kind of line chart showing cumulative effect.

Bar charts, in which numbers are visually portrayed by rectangular bars, can take a variety of forms.

Figure 16.5 Line Chart with Positive and Negative Values on Vertical Axis

• •



Figure 16.6 Surface Chart

Figure 1 Average Daily Employee Absences

100 90

Total for All Employees

lun. TulMonth

Figure 16.7 The Versatile Bar Chart

Company B Dominates the Market at This Time (August 1, 1997)


Company B Has Steadily Gained Market Share over Time


S 50%

S 50%


:> •


rnipany B



i m






Labor Represents 40 Percent of Company B's Expenses

my B Has Captured Most of the Growth Total Market over the Past Four Years


• •

Company C ^U*--*W^m



1 $100 it,

mm -





Advertising & Promotion R&D Sales & Administration

• •


• •

Chapter 16: Developing Visual Aids •


Figure 16.8 Pictogram

Figure 1 Starting Salaries for Sales Careers (in thousands) •



-L -

Technical sales Marketing management



• i

Wholesale sales


Retail sales Source: Adapted from David J . Rachman, Michael H . Mescon, Courtland L . Bovee, and John V, Thill, Business Today, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993), 657-670.

"Careers in Business/'

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• Indicate the composition of several items over time • Show the relative size of components of a whole You can be creative with bar charts in many ways. You might align the bars either vertically or horizontally and double the bars for comparisons. You might even use bar charts to show both positive and negative quantities. You can also convert the bars into a line of symbols, the number of symbols indicating the number of items (see Figure 16.8). A chart that uses symbols instead of words or numbers to portray data is known as a pictogram. The chief value of pictograms is their novelty. However, pictograms leave a lot to be desired from the standpoint of both preparation time and accuracy (the inability to show exact amounts, as in Figure 16.8 where showing part of a thousand is difficult). Although they occasionally enhance a report, they tend to be less useful than other types of bar charts. Closely related to the bar chart is the timeline chart, which shows how much time is needed to complete each task in a given project. When you want to track progress toward completing a project, you can use a type of timeline chart known as a Gantt chart (named for management theorist Henry L. Gantt). The Gantt chart in Figure 16.9 shows Activity

Research newsletter stories Write newsletter stories Obtain illustrations Lay out stories and illustrations

Week Week Week Week Week Week Week Week Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


Print newsletter Update subscribers' list Print envelopes Stuff newsletters into envelopes Stamp and mail envelopes

• •

Figure 16.9 Gantt Chart



the activities involved in preparing and mailing a newsletter, which is running behind schedule. The dark bars indicate completed tasks; the lighter bars indicate activities not yet completed.

Pie Charts

Use pie charts to show the relative sizes of the parts of a whole.

Another type of chart you see frequently in business reports is the pie chart, in which numbers are represented as slices of a complete circle, or pie. As you can see from the pie chart in Figure 16.10, this type of chart helps you show exactly how each part relates to the whole. You can combine pie charts with tables to expand the usefulness of such visuals. When composing pie charts, try to restrict the number of slices in the pie to seven. Otherwise, the chart looks cluttered and is difficult to label. If necessary, lump the smallest pieces together in a "miscellaneous" category. Ideally, the largest or most important slice of the pie, the segment you want to emphasize, is placed at the twelve o'clock position; the rest are arranged clockwise either in order of size or in some other logical progression. You might want to shade the segment that is of the greatest interest to your readers or use color to distinguish the various pieces. In any case, label all the segments and indicate their value in either percentages or units of measure so that your readers will be able to judge the value of the wedges. The segments must add up to 100 percent. •

Use flow charts • To show a series of steps from beginning to end • To show relationships

Flow Charts and Organization Charts

If you need to show physical or conceptual relationships rather than numerical ones, you might want to use a flow chart or an organization chart. A flow chart illustrates a irjjo^finislLjlow charts are indispensable when illustrating processes, procedures, and relationships. The various elements in the process you want Top 10 Candy Bars' Estimated Annual Sales

W H O HAS T H E SWTETEST SHARES Market Share by Company of the $8 Billion U.S. Confectionary Market (includes candies and chocolates) Leaf Inc. 4.5% RJR Nabisco 4.7% Nesde S.A. 7.0% Jacobs Suchard 7.2% — Mars Inc. 18.5% Hershey Foods Corp. 20.8% i


- + • ••

Figure 16.10 Pie Chart Combined with Table

Company M&M/Mars j Hershey M&M/Mars M&M/Mars •


i Hershey

Brand Snickers Bar Reese's Peanut Butter Cups . My*: M&M's Peanut Chocolate Candies M&M*s Plain Chocolate Candies KitKat Hershey's Milk*

M&M/Mars Hersh

Milky Way Bar Hershey's Milk Chocolate




Sales (In millions)

320 310 160

15? 150

Chapter 16: Developing Visual Aids 5

to portray may be represented by pictorial symbols or geometric shapes, as shown in Figure 16.11. An organization chart, as the name implies, illustrates the positions, units, or functions of an organization and the way they interrelate. An organization's normal communication channels are almost impossible to describe without the benefit of a chart like the one in Figure 16.12.

• •

. ..


Use organization charts to depict the interrelationships among the parts of an organization.



For certain applications, maps are ideal. One of the most common uses is to show concentrations of something by geographic area. In your own reports, you might use maps to show regional differences in such variables as your company's sales of a product. You might indicate proposed plant sites and their relationship to key markets. Most U.S. office-supply stores carry blank maps of various regions of the world, including all or part of the United States. You can illustrate these maps to suit your needs, using dots, shading, color, labels, numbers, and symbols. In addition, you can use specialized computer programs to select maps of various regions and insert just the portions you need into your business documents. Figure 1 Flow of Clients Through Health Center






Figure 16.11 Flow Chart



Registration Desk


Use maps To represent statistics by geographic area To show location relationships



Figure 1 Administration of Atlantic College

Board of Trustees

Dean of the College Dean of Technical Education Division

^,V-r-.../-.**W. -

Business Manager



Dean of General Education Division •

J- *



ean of Students

Dean of Continuing Education Division Director of Counseling

Personnel Manager

Director of Admissions


1 T W

• Division Fai

Figure 16.12 Organization Chart Use drawings and diagrams to show • How something looks or works • How something is made or used

Use photographs • For visual appeal • To show exact appearance •



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Drawings, Diagrams, and Photographs

Although less common than other visual aids, drawings, diagrams, and photographs are also used in business reports. Drawings and diagrams are most often used to show how something looks or operates. Figure 16.13 is from an article explaining how a new satellite network will let people place calls to any point on earth from any point on earth. This diagram was professionally prepared, but even a hand-drawn sketch can be much clearer than words alone when it comes to giving your audience an idea of how an item looks or how it can be used. In industries such as engineering and architecture, computer-aided design systems produce detailed diagrams and drawings. A variety of widely available software programs for microcomputers provide a file of symbols and pictures of various types, which can be used (sparingly) to add a decorative touch to reports and presentations. Photographs have always been popular in certain types of business documents, such as annual reports, where their visual appeal is used to capture the interest of readers. As the technology for reproducing photographs improves and becomes less expensive, even analytical business reports for internal use are beginning to include more photographs. Digital cameras now make it easy to drop photographic images directly into a report or presentation. Nothing can demonstrate the exact appearance of a new facility, a piece of property or equipment, or a new product the way a photograph can. In some situations, however, a photograph shows too much detail. This is one of the reasons repair manuals, for instance, frequently use drawings instead of photos. With a drawing, you can select how much detail to show and focus the reader's attention on particular parts or places. Technology has created new opportunities and an important new ethical concern for people who use photography in reports and other materials. Software tools such as Photoshop now make it easy for computer users to make dramatic changes to photos without leaving a clue. Small changes to photos have been possible for a long time, of course (more than a few people have blemishes airbrushed out of their yearbook

Chapter 16: Developing Visual Aids 519 •

Spanning the Globe

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The Iridium network will use a network of 66 satellites to transmit calls to andfromanywhere on Earth. 1 Caller uses a hand-held phone to place a call.


2 The Iridium system kicks into gear. The phone searches for local cellular service. If it finds it, the phone routes the call over conventional cellular radio frequencies.

j | J ] !

3 If no conventional cellular service is available, the Iridium phone sends the call up to a satellite.

4 The satellite locates the call's destination. If necessary, it sends the call through space to another satellite, which sends it on to others, until it reaches the satellite nearest the destination.

I •

v • •

?JX° -

8 >

5 If the call is headed to a conventional phone, it is sent to a phone company's ground station. The call is then routed through the phone company to its destination.

6 If the call is heading to an Iridium phone user in a remote area, the satellite beams the call directly to that one.

Figure 16.13 Diagram

photos), but computers make drastic changes easy and undetectable. You can remove people from photographs, put Person A's head on Person B's body, and make products look more attractive than they really are. As with other technological tools, stop and ask yourself where the truth lies before you start making changes. 7 PRODUCING VISUAL AIDS

Professional-looking visual aids used to be extremely expensive and time consuming to produce, but personal computer technology has changed all that. Graphics that used to cost hundreds of dollars and take several days to complete can now be done in minutes for little cost. Companies are cutting the cost and time involved in preparing visual aids by turning to computer graphics, charts and graphs that are created and produced using a computer program. Computer programs are having a tremendous impact on how companies create and use visual aids. Instead of relying on graphic designers, businesspeople are turning out their own professional-looking visual aids. The simplicity of the production process encourages people to present data in a graphic format. In fact, the technology is so seductive that some people can't resist going overboard and putting so much into graphic form that they diminish the effect they had hoped to achieve.

Computer-graphics systems cut the time and cost involved in producing visual aids.

Selecting the Right Visual Aid