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Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley

Founder
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Understand how and when to use charts and graphs.

Interact

Tables and graphs enable you to reach visual learners. When you select information for graphical representation, you are highlighting its significance. In some disciplines, particularly the sciences, readers expect authors to condense complicated information into charts and graphs. Many readers will scan a document's charts, tables, and graphs before reading any text.

Today's modern word processors offer powerful tools for developing attractive charts and graphs.

Use Charts and Graphs to Emphasize Important Information

Understand how and when to use charts and graphs

Graphs and tables can be used to emphasize important information. For example, in a report on population growth, you could explain that according to the United Nations, the rate of population growth has decreased since the 1970s. Worried that you are luring your readers into a false sense of security, you could nonetheless report that by 2030 the world population may expand from 6 to 8 billion. In contrast, though, imagine a visual that represents this trend--i.e., declining birth rates in contrast to the percentage increase of the world population:

Organizational Charts

Understand how and when to use charts and graphs

Use charts to clarify complicated points, to emphasize significant results, and to offer a shorthand version of the gist of the information you are reporting. For example, Michael Bain uses the following visual to clarify his purpose and give his readers a visual way to read his text, How MP3 Players Work

Understand how and when to use charts and graphs

Comparison Charts

Charts can be used to illustrate key points. For example, in Fatality Facts: Teenagers as of 2001, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides a graph that summarizes the gist of its report:

"Teenagers drive less than all but the oldest people, but their numbers of crashes and crash deaths are disproportionately high."

Beneath the above graph, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides a link to the plot points so that viewers can see exactly what numbers are illustrated in the graph. They also provide a detailed narrative discussion of the results and enable users to select tables that pop open the results presented in table formats.

Understand how and when to use charts and graphs


"Charts and Graphs" was written by Joseph Moxley, University of South Florida

Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham

Editor-in-Chief
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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