The Quick and Dirty on Data Visualization

This blog post by Nancy Duarte for the Harvard Business Review outlines five questions that should be asked before deciding how to visualise data. The main point she raises is that different rules apply for different contexts and therefore it is important to understand the purpose of your data visualisation in order to choose the best way to display it.   


"1. Am I presenting or circulating my data?

Context plays a huge role in how best to render data. When delivering a presentation, show the conclusions you’ve drawn, not all the details that led you to those conclusions. Because your slides will be up for only a few seconds, your audience will need to process them quickly. People won’t have time to chew on a lot of complex information, and they’re not likely to run up to the wall for a closer look at the numbers. So, think in broad strokes when you’re putting your charts together: What’s the overall trend you’re highlighting? What’s the most striking comparison you’re making? Those are the sorts of questions to answer with projected data." (Duarte, 2014)


  • Am I presenting or circulating my data?
  • Am I using the right kind of chart or table?
  • What message am I trying to convey?
  • Do my visuals accurately reflect the numbers?
  • Are my data memorable?


Duarte, N., (2014). The Quick and Dirty on Data Visualization, Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: