Ask Help, Read Books
Explore resources to learn how you can create better charts in PowerPoint.
Author: Geetesh Bajaj
Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint (all versions)
Learning is a process that never ends. You may be a charting expert, but there’s always more to learn because of two reasons:
- Your perspective may be different than that of others, and based on client requirements or any other reason, your perspective will change and evolve all the time.
- Technology changes all the time – and what seemed cutting edge just yesterday no longer seems so! And perceptions change too – newer chart types evolve all the time, and you will need to keep up!
Two of the best ways you can stay up to date is by reading books and participating in forums.
Let’s first look at books:
Most charting books fall into two categories – about charting design and charting techniques. Books within the first category look at charting, so as to how a particular chart will help people understand a difficult concept. They also look at design principles and best practices. Books within the second category look at the actual steps and techniques you need to explore to create those charts. There are a few books in this category that look at how charts can be created within Microsoft Excel, and almost no book is available similarly for PowerPoint – but that’s OK since Excel powers the charting engine within PowerPoint as well.
Here’s a list of some books within each category:
Charting Technique Books: There are several books on Excel charting – options within PowerPoint are similar enough! You can explore James Smith’s Meaningful Graphs and Excel 2013 Charts and Graphs by Bill Jelen.
Figure 1: Ask Help, Read Books
While books are great as a resource, they cannot be updated as frequently – nor do they allow much discussion. The latter is fulfilled better within the many forums online where PowerPoint and presentation designers are discussing everything from storytelling to chart designing. Go and visit these forums, ask polite questions, and try to help others.
So where can you find such forums? Microsoft Answers has dedicated sections for both PowerPoint and Excel – both these areas provide plenty of engagement. In addition, LinkedIn also provides several such forums including the popular PowerPoint and Presenting Stuff group.
In addition to books and forums, there are many web sites that talk about charts – a quick Google or Bing search will get you some great results!
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