Writing E-Tips
November 2004   
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"It is impossible for ideas to compete in the marketplace
if no forum for their presentation is provided or available."

-- Thomas Mann   

Using Graphics in Business Documents, Part II

     In our October issue, we examined the basic guidelines for using graphics and integrating them effectively into your documents. This month we continue the discussion, looking at . . .

  • the parts of a graphic and
  • specific types of graphics and their uses.

Parts of a Graphic

     Each graphic should include the following basic parts.

  • Heading: Include a descriptive title indicating the topic and purpose of the graphic. If using more than one graphic, be sure to number each one for easy reference.
  • Body: Incorporate any necessary labels, including numbers, units of measurement, and a legend explaining symbols and colors used. Try to keep all text horizontal for easy reading.
  • Caption: If appropriate, use a caption that explains the graphic and the source of the information.

Types of Graphics

line graph

Line graphs show relationships between numbers and can display differences, proportions, or trends. It can show changes over time and is a good way to display comparisons. The horizontal side usually measures time, while the vertical side measures costs or other numbers. Graphing and connecting points creates a clear pattern to show a trend.

pie graph

Pie graphs can divide a whole quantity into parts, showing the relationship between the parts. Pie graphs are visually strong and quickly show the big picture.


bar graph

bar graph

A bar graph compares amounts by using a series of horizontal or vertical bars for quick visual understanding. Some graphs use single bars to show changes in one item. Multiple-bar graphs can compare several items.

line drawingLine drawings are simplified drawings of an item. These might show just the outside of an object, a cutaway or cross section to show how something works, or an exploded view of the interior workings pulled out, showing how they fit together.


Maps can provide a picture of differences in trends, sales, or preferences for different areas. Maps help present a clear picture of concepts.


Tables help to arrange numbers and words in a grid of rows and columns. Tables allow you to arrange figures to be more readable and are excellent for providing and comparing exact figures.


Photographs can provide clear detail. Some photo software can help you define your photo for clearer viewing by cropping, emphasizing, or sharpening the image. If you use someone else’s photo, obtain permission or pay any copyright fees required. You could also add images such as arrows or labels to help identify parts in the photo.

The preceding tips are from
Write for Business:
A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating

Learn more about integrating graphics into business documents on pages 161-172 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating.

Coming in the December Issue:
“Common Grammar Problems to Avoid, Part I”

“E-mail for Success—A Workshop Approach to
Writing and Sending E-Mail”

It’s a new generation in on-site training! Visit us online at www.upwritepress.com for more on this exciting new concept in business writing.

Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating
is available for purchase at 1-800-261-0637 ext. 10,
or on the Web at www.upwritepress.com.

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