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Statistical/Data Presentation Tools

Descriptive statistics enable us to understand data through summary values and graphical presentations. Summary values not only include the average, but also the spread, median, mode, range, and standard deviation. It is important to look at summary statistics along with the data set to understand the entire picture, as the same summary statistics may describe very different data sets. Descriptive statistics can be illustrated in an understandable fashion by presenting them graphically using statistical and data presentation tools.

When creating graphic displays, keep in mind the following questions:

  • • What am I trying to communicate?
  • • Who is my audience?
  • • What might prevent them from understanding this display?
  • • Does the display tell the entire story?

Several types of statistical/data presentation tools exist, including: (a) charts displaying frequencies (bar, pie, and Pareto charts, (b) charts displaying trends (run and control charts), (c) charts displaying distributions (histograms), and (d) charts displaying associations (scatter diagrams).

Different types of data require different kinds of statistical tools. There are two types of data. Attribute data are countable data or data that can be put into categories: e.g., the number of people willing to pay, the number of complaints, percentage who want blue/percentage who want red/percentage who want yellow. Variable data are measurement data, based on some continuous scale: e.g., length, time, cost.

Choosing Data Display Tools

To Show Use Data Needed

Frequency of occurance:  Simple percentages or comparisons of magnitude

Bar chart

Pie chart

Pareto chart

Tallies by category (data can be attribute data or variable data divided into categories)
Trends over time

Line graph

Run chart

Measurements taken in chronological order (attribute or variable data can be used)
Distribution:  Variation not related to time (distributions) Histograms Forty or more measurements (not necessarily in chronological order, variable data)
Association:  Looking for a correlation between two things Scatter diagram Forty or more paired measurements (measures of both things of interest, variable data)










The following types of Statistical/Data Presentation Techniques are covered:

Bar and Pie Charts
Run Charts
Scatter Diagram
Pareto Chart
Client Window