APR 1, 2005 1:00am ET

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Quantitative vs. Categorical Data: A Difference Worth Knowing

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When you create a graph, you step through a series of choices, including which type of graph you should use and several aspects of its appearance. Most people walk through these choices as if they were sleepwalking, with only a vague sense at best of what works, of why one choice is better than another. Without guiding principles rooted in a clear understanding of graph design, choices are arbitrary and the resulting communication fails in a way that can be costly to the business. To communicate effectively using graphs, you must understand the nature of the data, graphing conventions and a bit about visual perception - not only what works and what doesn't, but why.

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