Plain Figures is a method of transforming statistical and financial data into figures, tables and graphs that people readily understand.
Have you ever:
squinted your eyes trying to see the numbers in a PowerPoint presentation?
scratched your head at a charity leaflet with an indecipherable pie chart titled 'Where your donation goes' ... and set it aside?
missed discussion at a meeting because you were busy trying to figure out the figures?
put aside a graph or table, thinking "I'm not good with numbers."?
Then you know how important the clear display of numerical information can be.
People have trouble using numerical information for many reasons. Most commonly, authors don't know:
what to include: when unsure what numbers are important, people frequently display them all, overpowering the reader with irrelevance.
which format to use: the choice between text and table, table and chart, bar and pie.
how to use the technology effectively: computer software generates graphs easily, but the results hide your point behind incomprehensible chartjunk.
how to explain the information: selecting the right words for titles, columns and captions.
Plain Figures is a partnership between Sally Bigwood, located in Wakefield, Yorkshire, UK, and Melissa Spore, who divides her time between Toronto and Saskatoon, Canada. Sally and Melissa are sisters and both have dual citizenship in the United States.
[Edited entry from 6/4/2006]
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