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Reverse Engineer Charts

Explore and investigate charts on sample slides to understand them better.

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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint (all versions)

Imitation is the best form of flattery – and that motto will help you create charts that are so much better! Before we proceed, let us discuss whether imitation is stealing? The answer to that question is that you must only look at imitation as a source of inspiration. And make sure that you leave your own imprint to whatever you create. You can do so by investigating the chart content well, making changes that work for you, and improvising all the time.

Did you notice something funny in the last paragraph. We promise we never did this intentionally, but we seem to have used a lot of "I" words such as imitation, inspiration, imprint, investigation, and improvising! Let’s add another word to this list: influence. Make sure that you are just using a chart you reverse engineer as an influence - a very good influence.

Author Austin Kleon says in his book, Steal Like An Artist:

Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.

Austin just introduced another "I" word on this page: ideas!

If you have sample presentations that include great charts that others have designed, then go ahead and explore them to gain some ideas! Make a copy of the slide that contains the chart you love and try to reverse engineer the chart. Look at all the options used in the chart -- even if you use a single idea from the chart you tried to reverse engineer, it is worth the time and effort. Gradually you will combine your inspiration with these ideas to cultivate your own style.

Reverse Engineer Charts
Figure 1: Reverse Engineer Charts


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