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Visualize Your Data in Microsoft Visio 2016

Create data graphics

In Chapter 10, “Link to external data,” you will discover a simple technique for applying data graphics to shapes that are linked to data in an external file or database. However, linking to external data is not a requirement for using data graphics. Even if you’ve manually entered data into your shapes, you can still represent that data visually.

Each data graphic you create can contain one or more graphic items. Each graphic item is associated with a data field and presents data by using one of the following formats:

  • Callout A formatted text box, sometimes accompanied by an icon, that is used to display text

  • Icon Set A collection of up to five icons that are used to represent specific values or ranges of values
  • Data Bar One of a set of progress bars, star ratings, pie charts, graphs, or other graphics used to represent numeric values
  • Color by Value A technique for setting the color of a shape based on the value of a data field in the shape

You create and apply data graphics by using options on the Data tab. Portions of the Data tab—the Data Graphics gallery and several buttons—will be dimmed (unavailable) if you have not linked your diagram to external data; these portions are omitted from the images of the Data tab shown in Figure 9-8. However, the Advanced Data Graphics button on the right end of the tab is always available, and that’s the button you use to create data graphics in an unlinked diagram.

Figure 9-8

Figure 9-8 The Visio Professional Data tab

Clicking the Advanced Data Graphics button opens the Data Graphics gallery, which includes a Create New Data Graphic button. The first step in creating a data graphic is to create a graphic item, and the first step in doing that is to select a data field.

The list of available data fields varies depending on which shapes are selected when you click the Create New Data Graphic button. If no shapes are selected, or if the selected shapes have one or more data fields in common, a list like the one shown in the upper half of Figure 9-9 is displayed. If a set of shapes with no common fields is selected, an abbreviated list such as the one shown in the lower half of Figure 9-9 is displayed.

Figure 9-9

Figure 9-9 New data graphics can be based on shape data fields or data that resides elsewhere in a diagram

In either case, you can use the More Fields entry shown in both parts of Figure 9-9 to create more sophisticated data graphics. For example, instead of creating a graphic based on a shape data field, you can create a graphic based on a document or page property, or based on a calculated result.

After selecting a data field, your next choice is which of the four graphic item types you want to use. The first three graphic types provide a list of choices, as shown from left to right in Figure 9-10 for the Text, Data Bar, and Icon Set lists.

Figure 9-10

Figure 9-10 Data graphics offer an impressive range of colorful choices for representing data

Choosing an icon set requires you to specify which value, or range of values, applies to each icon. Figure 9-11 shows the settings for a data graphic you will apply in the following topic. Although this figure designates a specific value for each icon, you have considerable flexibility in defining the conditions for each flag. You can:

  • Use the list in the center column to create a range of values for each icon and to set other conditions.
  • Use the list on the right to enter more sophisticated values than simply typing a number or text into the field.

The fourth data graphic type, Color By Value, extracts data values from the selected field and matches each with a color, as shown in Figure 9-12.

Figure 9-11

Figure 9-11 The options for configuring icon set graphics are flexible

Figure 9-12

Figure 9-12 Visio identifies existing data values and selects colors when you create a color-by-value data graphic

To select a field to create a data graphic

  1. Open the New Data Graphic dialog box by doing either of the following:

    • On the Data tab, in the Advanced Data Linking group, click Advanced Data Graphics, and then click Create New Data Graphic.
    • Right-click any shape that does not contain a data graphic, click Data, and then click Edit Data Graphic.
  2. Click the New Item button.
  3. In the New Item dialog box, click the Data field arrow, and then click the name of the field you want to visualize.

To create a Text data graphic

  1. Select a field to visualize, click the Displayed as arrow, and then click Text.
  2. Click the Style arrow, and then click the name of the text callout you want.
  3. (Optional) Change configuration values in the Details section.
  4. (Optional) Either select the Use default position check box, or use the Horizontal and Vertical lists to select a specific position for your data graphic.
  5. Click OK to close the New Item dialog box, and then click OK to close the New Data Graphic dialog box.

To create a Data Bar data graphic

  1. Select a field to visualize, click the Displayed as arrow, and then click Data Bar.
  2. Click the Style arrow, and then click the name of the data bar you want.
  3. (Optional) Change Minimum Value, Maximum Value, or other configuration values in the Details section.
  4. (Optional) Either select the Use default position check box, or select an option from the Horizontal and Vertical lists to select a specific position.
  5. Click OK to close the New Item dialog box, and then click OK to close the New Data Graphic dialog box.

To create an Icon Set data graphic

  1. Select a field to visualize, click the Displayed as arrow, and then click Icon Set.
  2. Click the Style arrow, and then click the icon set you want.
  3. Click the appropriate condition from the list in the center column of the Rules for showing each icon section, and then enter values in the right column in the same section.
  4. (Optional) Either select the Use default position check box, or select an option from the Horizontal and Vertical lists to select a specific position.
  5. Click OK to close the New Item dialog box, and then click OK to close the New Data Graphic dialog box.

To create a Color By Value data graphic

  1. Select a field to visualize, click the Displayed as arrow, and then click Color by Value.
  2. (Optional) Click the Coloring Method arrow, and then click either Each color represents a unique value or Each color represents a range of values.
  3. Either leave the entries in the Value, Fill Color, and Text Color fields in the Color assignments section as is, or make the changes you want.
  4. Click OK to close the New Item dialog box, and then click OK to close the New Data Graphic dialog box.