Describing Visual Data (Part 2)
Image courtesy of John Jones via Flickr (CC 2.0)
In the previous part, we looked at some useful advice to produce a good report – adding data to descriptions and choosing data carefully.
Here are some more tips on report writing.
3. Use comparative language
As well as choosing the right kind of data, a report writing exercise tests the writer’s ability to compare information where relevant. In other words, for a report to be good, you need to be able to look at trends in the graph and identify both similarities and differences.
Naturally, use of language to compare things is a must here, so keep looking for opportunities to use comparative phrases such as greater than, a lot less than, and relatively unpopular. Superlative adjectives (e.g. the tallest, the fastest, the costliest, etc.) also come in handy when something is being compared to a group of objects.
4. Use appropriate vocabulary
There’s no doubt that the wider the range of vocabulary used, the clearer descriptions get. A powerful word like skyrocket or plummet can help the reader visualise the trend being described even without having to look at figures. Of course, range alone will not do the trick. What is equally important is that vocabulary gets used precisely.
A graph is usually full of trends, which means that skillful use of trend vocabulary can better the overall quality of a report. Learning such vocabulary can go a long way towards improving your descriptions.
5. Look at the big picture
An overload of statistics can possibly suck the writer in, meaning that they spend all their energies on details. When writing a report, if you can’t see the wood for the trees, then that definitely is a major handicap. Always look for the big picture, that one overriding pattern or trend that captures the essence of the graph that you are interpreting.
Practise using these tips, and report writing should be manageable even if you aren’t mathematically inclined.
|do the trick|
|Meaning||:||used to mean that something achieved what you wanted it to|
|Example||:||Complaining to the manager did the trick, as we got a discount on the meal.|
|not see the wood for the trees|
|Meaning||:||used to say that someone is so focused on details that they fail to notice the main point|
|Example||:||People who lack experience are often unable to see the wood for the trees.|
|Example||:||Playing in Canada was a handicap, as they were used to warmer conditions.|
|the big picture|
|Meaning||:||an overview of a situation|
|Example||:||The article focuses on the big picture of how the internet influences what we buy.|