9. Mapping Your Data


Mapping your data can radically improve your visualisations, helping your audience to quickly grasp geographic trends. The best way to do this is with interactive maps that can be purchased online.

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  1. Lesson Goal (00:06)

    The goal of this lesson is to learn how you can create map-based visualizations in PowerPoint.

  2. Editing a Map (00:14)

    Maps in PowerPoint can be purchased from various sources, which are listed below. Color-coded maps can be extremely useful when you want to visualize geographic data. In these maps, each location, such as a country or state, is an individual object. This makes it easy to edit one or more locations on a map. We can select a location and apply a different color to it, or we can add a textbox to serve as a label.

  3. Interpreting Maps (01:26)

    Maps make it easy to obtain geographic insights from your data. For example, you can see if particular regions have high or low values for a variable of interest. These insights are easily visible on a map, but would be difficult to identify from other visualizations.

    The main downside of maps is that they can take some time to build. Also, they generally cost additional money. However, the time and money invested can be worth it if it allows you to obtain high quality insights from geographic data. 

  4. Resource: Map Providers (02:40)


If you are displaying geographic data in your presentation, I would highly encourage you to consider using color-coded maps to display your insights. To the reader, maps are immediately familiar, and can visualize geographic trends that a bar chart or line chart cannot. Unbeknownst to many PowerPoint users, maps can be bought online from a variety of sources, some of which I will include in the show notes below this video. These maps are easy to edit, as each country or state is an individual object. For example, let's say I want to highlight the top five states that contribute the most revenue to my company. These states are California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida. To do this, I'll select each state, and color them a darker blue. And with a text box in a line, I'll also include how much revenue each contributes starting with California.

I'll do the rest of these off-camera and I'll also add in total revenue to my slide.

From the map, it's easy to see that there is a regional concentration of sales in the Southwest. But for some reason, Florida is a geographic Eau Claire that contributes a lot of sales as well. In a map, this is easy to grasp, but on an equivalent bar chart, the insight is not nearly as strong.

Unfortunately, these interactive maps do cost money, but if you find yourself building these types of charts regularly, I would encourage you to purchase them. Mapping data is particularly useful when you want to understand regional trends. For example, this map shows the retail price of electricity by state in 2007. By color coding each state and including the electricity prices, the label, we can spot some obvious trends. For example, electricity prices on the coasts are much higher than in the Midwest. And in particular, this line of states, including the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas have very low electricity prices. The one drawback of mapping data is the charts can take some time to build, fitting in prices on 50 states or a set of 20 countries can get quite tiresome. However, if it makes the difference between getting your point across effectively, it can be well worth the effort. Be sure to check out the links I have in the show notes to see what maps are available for regions relevant to your line of business.

PowerPoint Essentials
Creating Business Presentations


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