How to Incorporate Visuals Into Your Report

creditsuisse graphAs useful and necessary as graphics are, it is not enough to just plop them into a document.  Here is how you incorporate a graphic into your work:

Step 1: Label, number and title every graphic.  In the more technical fields, all graphics are either Tables or Figures.  Use Tables for tables (duh) and use Figures for everything else. The graphics should be numbered according to when they appear in your document (Figure 1, Figure 2 – or Table 1, 2 etc.).  Also, every graphic should have an informative title that helps the reader understand the content.

Step 2: Place the graphic in the right spot.  Usually, this means as close as possible to the text that refers to it.  If the graphic is not directly relevant, or if the graphic is so large that it interrupts the flow of your document, place it in the appendix with a reference to it in the text.

Step 3: Introduce and explain every graphic.  Don’t force your reader to do the interpretive work – explain what your graphic is doing and what the content means.  Use legends, arrows, captions – anything that will help your reader understand.  Also reference every graphic in the text either before the graphic appears or, if you are wrapping text, next to the graphic.  Avoid referencing a graphic for the first time after the graphic has already appeared.

Step 4: Document your graphics.  If you didn’t create the graphic yourself (and your company doesn’t already own it), be sure cite the source.  If you are publishing your work and the graphic is protected by copyright, you will have to get permission and possibly pay a fee.  Most style guides recommend you cite the source in both a references section and in the caption of the graphic itself.

Step 5: Make your graphic stand out.  Most graphics stand out anyway, but consider adding rules or boxes or additional spaces to distinguish your graphic from the text.  If you are writing a document with several types of graphics, consider using colored screens or filters to separate say, the pull quotes from the charts and graphs.

Step 6:  Make it easy to find your graphics.  If your document includes 3 or more graphics, include a list of illustrations just after your table of contents.

See the  2011 Credit Suisse Report on Global Wealth.pdf which illustrates almost perfectly how to incorporate charts and graphs.  It also includes some pretty awesome visuals.

Some Top Sources For Business News

front page of wall street journal feb 19 2018

Looking for places to find business and tech news?  Need sources for your Professional Reading Blog assignment?  Want to beef up your knowledge of current business happenings?

Here is a short list of some well-regarded publications.  Browse them, the write about articles and topics that are most interesting to you.

As you can see, this is a very short list.  There are many more great publications for business news.  Write a comment to share your own favorite news sources with us.


The Best Lists

The best lists:

  • Are shorter lists.  Most people can only remember 5-9 items easily.  If you have 10 or more items in your list, divide the items into categories or topics.
  • Are parallel in grammatical structure.  Whether your items are single words (-hammer, -saw) or verb phrases (-preheat the oven, -melt the butter) or noun phrases (-improved decision making, -effective strategies) or even complete sentences, just make sure all the items in that list are phrased the same way.
  • Are introduced with a lead-in. Most lead-ins are grammatically complete clauses followed by a colon.

    All lists deserve a lead-in.

  • Are well-punctuated.   Rules for punctuating lists can vary (your organization may have a preferred style), but for the most part punctuate your lists like these examples.

    Example 1: For items written as phrases, use a lowercase letter at the start. Do not use a period or a comma at the end.

    Example 2: For items written as complete sentences, punctuate just like any other sentence.

    Example 3: Phrases and sentences?  Start each phrase with an uppercase letter and end it with a period. Begin the complete sentences with uppercase letters and end them with periods. Use italics and/or bold to emphasize the phrases.

  • Are aligned visually. In most lists, the second and subsequent lines, called turnovers, align under the first letter of the first line, highlighting the bullet or number to the left of the text. This hanging indentation helps the reader see and understand the organization of the passage.

The Curse of Knowledge

Many sensible strategies fail to drive action because executives formulate them in sweeping, general language.

The Curse of Knowledge


Visual from Communication Fundamentals with John Ullman.

In our last class period, we discussed the “Intent-Impact Gap,”  or the disconnect between what we want our audience to think, feel and do, and what they actually think feel and do.

We have experienced examples of this gap in our own communication, both professionally and personally.

Now, Chip and Dan Heath of the Harvard Business Review discuss the science behind the intent-impact gap.  A simple tapping exercise reveals a communication phenomenon, labeled the “Curse of Knowledge.” 

I would love to know your thoughts.  Please read and comment.

The Irresistible Power of Storytelling

People think it’s all about sex or humor or animals, but what we’ve found is that the underbelly of a great commercial is whether it tells a story or not.

Keith Quesenberry, researcher, Johns Hopkins Center for Leadership Education.

Want to sell a product?  Want to explain a complex idea?  Want your audience to actually remember what you said?  Consider using classic storytelling techniques.

These techniques are ancient – dating back to Aristotle – and include literary terms like exposition, complication, climax, reversal and denouement.  Simplified, great storytelling includes a likable main character, some sort of action or complication and a result or ending.

The best stories use concrete language and images, instead of abstract ideas.  They show, rather than tell.

In this article published by the Harvard Business Review, the science behind why people react so strongly to stories is explained, beginning with why Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” ad scored top marks in USA Today’s Ad Meter and Hulu’s Ad Zone as a fan favorite during the 2014 Super Bowl.

Other examples of storytelling techniques:

My Heart Attack Taught Me To Slow Down, by Bill Marriott. Marriott on the Move.

The following scene from The Blind Side:

Your Wishes Delivered: Driver for a Day.  UPS

Please read and comment.