Help me make my graphs pretty
June 15, 2012 2:39 PM Subscribe
Tips for making attractive charts/graphs? (In Excel/Illustrator, but I'm not bound to those).
posted by hot soup to media & arts (11 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
I've developed an interest in data visualization and want to take my charts and graphs to the next level (in a snazzy data visualization/infographic kind of way, not a "clean up for publication in peer-reviewed journal" kind of way). For the most part, my graphs are all pretty standard - line/area graphs plotted against time, histograms, etc. and I want to know what I should do presentation-wise to clean them up and make them more professional looking, but I'm also interested in learning about other ways to represent data. I've seen some neat charts on flowingdata.com, for instance.
I'm looking for general advice/rules of thumb, specific tips, and any good examples to reference. I know there have been a couple of questions about data visualization recently, but this is really focused on polishing the graphs I already have rather than the data analysis component. Basically, I want my graphs to look like they were prepared by a graphic designer, not just thrown into the Excel Chart wizard.
Tools/background: I have Excel 2010 and Adobe Illustrator. I've used R before but not heavily. I'm comfortable in Illustrator but am not, by any means, a graphic designer. I'm also interested in coding more interactive visualizations, but I'll leave that for another question.
P.S. - Is it easier to use Illustrator's graph tool or to make graphs in Excel and import the lines into Illustrator? It seems like the latter...