Lab Matters Winter 2020 - Page 29

COMMUNICATIONS Be Consistent. Be Careful with Color Use the same font, colors and alignment throughout your presentation. Using a single color on your graph is usually the best practice for presenting data, so people can see the shape of the data without distraction. (Grays are a good neutral color!) Use Clear and Minimal Text. Focus on the figure first and the text second, with only enough text to clarify the graphical elements. Color can be a useful tool in visually conveying your data’s story – when used sparingly: • Title: Include a simple, easily understood title in the title slot or in the graph itself. • Show intensity/volume with a color gradient. Using gradations of a single color tells readers that the data is growing bigger as the color darkens. • Data labels: Directly label elements so they can be identified and understood quickly. Do not use a legend, as it can be difficult to see and disadvantages people with limited color vision. • Use a pop of color for emphasis. Highlight key findings with a bold color, keeping the others muted and monochrome. • Make the most important text prominent. Allow Your Audience to Focus on Key Data Points. • Remove extraneous elements: 3D bars, grid lines, tick marks, beveling, fancy backgrounds, etc. • Avoid boxes and arrows. Instead, use a pop of color to make key elements stand out against more monochrome/ muted data, or use animation to gradually add elements while reducing the color in other areas of the graph. • Ensure colors are of similar intensity. If you need to use multiple colors, as in a line graph, select colors of similar intensity. Otherwise, you may unintentionally give some data more weight, which can lead to misinterpretation. Avoid Additional Formatting Faux Pas • Limit the number of points to five per slide (three is better). • Limit the amount of text on a slide. Use phrases with key words, not sentences, and avoid sub-bullets if possible. • Don’t place text over photos. • Don’t paste a copy of a graph into a slide. Copies are hard to see and will be inconsistent with other graphs in your presentation. Take a few minutes to make a version of the original. “I know you can’t see this but” If a graph or chart will not be visible from the back of a darkened conference room, eliminate it! n DIGITAL EXTRA: Visit APHL.org for additional data visualization resources. PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org Winter 2020 LAB MATTERS 27