Issue #109 May 16, 2006

PowerPoint Tip – Using a picture to fill a graph

Graphs are one of the most effective ways to show numerical data in a presentation. The visual can bring the data to life and really highlight the important point you are making. In all graphs, you should use emphasis to direct your audience to the specific part of the graph that is making the point. It is not good enough to just show the graph and hope the audience figures it out. One good way to emphasize your point on a graph is to use a graphic arrow to point to the specific line, bar, column or pie slice that is your point on the graph. Another way, and my personal favourite, is to use color to emphasize the important part of the graph. For example, in a column chart, I will make all of the other columns appear with just a line outlining the column, but no fill color. Then, for the important column that makes my point, I will fill it with a color that contrasts with my background so it stands out. Another approach to filling a column, bar or pie slice is to use a photo. By using a photo, you not only emphasize the data point, but you add the dimension of showing a picture of what the data means to the audience. For example, if you were using a pie chart to show the relative market share of your company to others in your region, you could highlight the pie slice representing your market share by using your corporate logo. This is an even better way to emphasize the point you are making about your market share in the region. To fill a pie slice, column or bar with a picture, follow these steps: 1. Double click on the graph to enter the graph editing mode and click on the graph to select the graph for editing instead of the data table 2. Click on the pie slice, bar or column to select the data series (for the rest of the instructions I will use the example of a pie slice, but the instructions are almost identical for a column or bar) 3. Click on the specific slice you want to add a picture to 4. Right-click on the slice and select Format Data Point 5. On the Patterns tab, for the Area, click on the Fill Effects button 6. Click on the Picture tab and click on the Select Picture button to locate the picture on your computer 7. Depending on the size of your picture and the type of graph, select whether to stretch the picture or stack it (I usually use stretch for a pie slice and stack for columns or bars) 8. Click OK twice and your pie slice should now have your logo in it Next time you are creating a chart, consider whether adding a picture will help your audience understand the point of the graph better.