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.

How To Make Wall Street Laugh

 

Business Insider published an article  about a super-ambitious internship applicant who wrote an over-the-top cover letter.  It has some of the biggest names on Wall Street in stitches – and not in a good way.

Can We Say Over The Top?

In his cover letter to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the applicant wrote (in part):

“I am unequivocally the most unflaggingly hard worker I know, and I love self-improvement. I have always felt that my time should be spent wisely, so I continuously challenge myself … I decided to redouble my effort by placing out of two classes, taking two honors classes, and holding two part-time jobs. That semester I achieved a 3.93, and in the same time I managed to bench double my bodyweight and do 35 pull-ups.”

Their Challenge – And Yours

The hiring director sent the cover letter to Morgan Stanley, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and more.  He offered to buy drinks for “the first analyst to concisely summarize everything that is wrong with” the cover letter.

I will offer PRB comment credit for the same.  Click here to see the entire cover letter.  Read the cover letter, then write your analysis as a comment on this site.  After you post your comment, copy the url and paste into your PRB discussion forum on Canvas.

On your mark, get set, GO!

Thanks to Sidra Maryam.
 
Photo by Mark Skeet on Unsplash

 

How To Say You’re Sorry

 CBS MoneyWatch posted an article on seven ways that apologies should be conducted in business.  Some make a lot of sense to me – others not so much.  For instance, the writer, Tom Searcy, suggests that we don’t apologize nearly enough in business situations.  He believes that apologies “take the energy out of conflicts,” which may be true, but there is a fine line between an expression of sympathy and a condescending “sorry you feel that way.”  Below I have outlined four prominent apologies.  Read through them and discuss.

Apology 1: Netflix Fail

In the fall of 2011, Netflix was in the news for all the wrong reasons. First, CEO Reed Hastings decided to split the business into two unwieldy entities, requiring customers to work harder at accessing their memberships and services.  Then he raised prices.  The move was met with huge negative backlash .  A million customers walked out the door.

Then, under pressure, Hastings caved.  Soon after, he issued a video apology.

 

Apology 2: Jetblue is Very Very Sorry

In February of 2007, an ice storm slammed the East Coast, severely disrupting air traffic.  JetBlue came under fire for its many customer service missteps, and particularly for not applying common sense in making their passengers more comfortable during a horrible situation (in one story, a girl urinated in her seat during a ground delay due to flight attendants’ strict enforcement of an FAA regulation requiring passengers to stay seated.)

Many consider this a model corporate apology:  Jetblue Apology

Apology 3:  Colgan Air Disaster.  Sorry/Not Sorry. 

This excerpt is from a letter written by Colgan Air executives after the airing of a Frontline special about Colgan Air #3407, which crashed in Buffalo in 2009, killing all on board.  In the final analysis, NTSB reported pilot error and management problems as cause of the crash.

What do you think of Colgan Air after reading this?: letter_colgan_air_safety

Apology 4: A Real Apology – And A Shot In the Arm for Penn State’s Battered Reputation.

Now read “Hey CEOs, THIS is the Right Way to Apologize,” written after Onward State Managing Editor Devon Edwards mistakenly announced Joe Paterno’s death via Twitter.

Sheryl Sandberg: Defending Yourself vs Taking Responsibility

All this talk of apologies leads me back to the words of Sheryl Sandberg.  She seems to advocate taking responsibility, even if the situation is not exactly our fault (the traffic didn’t cause me to be late; I was late because I failed to account for traffic).

Reality is far more gray.  Usually many factors come into play when things go wrong.  The stories that people hear and judge us by are not always the whole truth.

So under which circumstances should we take full responsibility and (publicly or privately) apologize?  And under which circumstances should we try to explain the “whole truth” and defend ourselves?