Visualizing Data

It is often said that “a picture paints a thousand words.”  There is a lot of truth to that sentiment.  Often, a set of numbers makes little sense in a table, but they can come alive with meaning when presented in graphical form.  Graphs are visual depictions of a data set, making it easy to see patterns and other details. Deciding which type of graph to use depends on the type of data you are analyzing.  Excel generally does an excellent job of producing graphs, and the controls become rather intuitive once you have mastered one type of graph.  We will discuss some major types of graphs and how to generate them as we move along, but perhaps it will be helpful to get an idea of the basic types before we do move on.

Histograms: A histogram shows the distribution of data among different intervals or categories, using a series of vertical bars.  For this reason, histograms are more commonly referred to as bar charts.

Line graphs: A line graph shows how a variable changes over time or in relation to another variable.  Line graphs are made by creating a “dot plot” and then connecting the dots.

Pie charts: A pie chart shows how data are distributed among different categories, illustrated as a series of slices taken from a pie.

Scatter plots (scatter diagrams): A scatter plot shows the relationship between two variables as a series of points (“dots”). The pattern of the points indicates how closely related the two variables are.

Key Terms

Row, Column, Spreadsheet, Excel, Function, Data Analysis ToolPak

Important Symbols

important statistical symbols

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Last Modified:  06/29/2018

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