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PowerPoint Chart Tips 06: Consider Tables

Explore how a simple table can sometimes show data better than a chart.


Product/Version: PowerPoint

Did you read the title of this page correctly? Are we really suggesting that you should consider using a table rather than a chart? You might have heard the reverse more often, about using charts rather than tables but like for everything else in life, there's not one glove that fits all hands, or in this case, there's not one solution that can work with all sorts of data.

Let's imagine that you have some simple data to start with, maybe something on the lines of revenue from one division being $2000 and the revenue from another division being $50 million. Now whatever you do, and even if you work hard to create a faux split chart, you will still compare a trend that's not comparable, at least not in a chart. Use a table instead, and the data can be so easily compared. It's one of those times when you should not complicate something that's simple enough.

In such and similar scenarios, a simple table with a few columns and rows can portray some data better than a chart. A table is a perfectly acceptable solution, and there are times when it can indeed help your audience understand things better than a chart.

A simple table can sometimes show data better than a chart
Figure 1: A simple table can sometimes show data better than a chart

Want another analogy? We won't go too far to find this analogy: imagine the humble multiplication table presented as a chart? Some things are meant to stay simple, just don't complicate them. Your audience will be happier, and so will you.

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