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Line Charts For Dashboards

When using business intelligence software you are bound to come across countless line charts. These are undoubtedly some of the simplest and most common charts in use at the moment, especially on dashboards. Line charts are by nature simplistic, uncluttered and clear. Nothing can be more straightforward than a trend line, visually representing progress over time with a single line.

If you choose to use a line chart in a dashboard, it is important that you appreciate the simplicity of this approach. Like any chart, a line chart should state its information as clearly and succinctly as possible. You should never try to add to a line chart in any way. Any added features will just clutter your chart and reduce its overall effectiveness considerably.

When creating a line chart, try to keep labelling and text to a minimum. Of course your chart should have a title, and each axis must be clearly labelled. Units should also be displayed. However you should make sure that this text does not dominate the chart. It should be coloured in such a way that it is clear, but not so that it is attention grabbing. However you should also avoid legends of any kind. If you have more than one series on a single chart, label each one directly and briefly.

As the goal with all charts is to avoid clutter, you should try not to have too many series on the same chart. If these trend lines are overlapping each other or passing very close together it will be difficult to get a clear overview of the data. If you do use more than one series, make sure that each trend line is coloured so that it contrasts sharply with its fellows.

If one of your axes represents time, make sure that all data points are equally spaced. If you do not do this, users will get a false impression of the timeline. You should also be aware that axis limits are variable. Choose the range of each axes based on the data at hand, and fit it appropriately to best display your data.

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