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Formatting for Financial Scorecards and Detailed Reports

We are redesigning a set of scorecards and related financial reports intended for Senior Management. Our company has a history of using black boxes to visually separate and organize blocks of data. We have been slowly changing this practice by first adopting 50% gray boxes, then doing away with some boxes and eventually moving to 25% gray for remaining boxes and heading underlines, etc. In the current design cycle, we are removing even more, but have run up against the question of whether or not some level of "outlining" is necessary to visually organize the data or to provide visual weight.

The pdf files below show two prototypes that highlight the types of reporting design issues we are confronting. The first page is a Scorecard, and the second is an example of a detail page that would typically supplement scorecard information. The examples do not "foot" as we doctored up the data out of concern for confidentiality.

We would like feedback mainly on the use of lines to visually organize the data, but we are also concerned with the appropriate use of color, bold face and other formatting techniques. Bear in mind we are working in EXCEL, in a fast-turnaround automated environment.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

Paul Grande

PROTOTYPE 1 (2 pages):

PROTOTYPE 2 (2 pages):

-- Paul Grande (email)

Original PDF files are available upon request.

The imbedded images do not fully highlight the differences. If anyone is interested in reviewing the protoypes in native PDF format, please send me an E-mail and I will send them to you directly.


Paul Grande

-- Paul Grande (email)

The emailed PDFs were much better to view. My quick perception is still the same though ... that the vertical lines that divide the kinds of data being displayed help. Without the lines my eyes track across without necessarily noticing the data type has changed.

-- Gene Prescott (email)

Why aren't these data plotted over time, in a run chart or control chart? Two point comparisons (last month to this month, this month last year to current month) are not useful and are usually misleading. See Donald Wheeler's excellent little book - Understanding Variation, available from SPC Press.

-- Steven Byers (email)

Vertical lines help.

Also, in answer to the previous responder, presumably the reason these numbers are not shown as some kind of chart is that there are so many different metrics on one page and this is important to the concept of "scorecard".

What does it look like close to the start of the financial year? Much more white space I'd guess.

-- Matthew Leitch (email)

Threads relevant to business:
Narrative sparklines should replace one-at-time instantaneous performance readings.

Threads relevant to statistical graphics:

Sports data (along with financial and medical data) are an obvious and natural application of sparklines.

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