Create a Graph….avoiding my complicated relationship with Excel

Create a Graph
Cost: Free
Type: Internet tool
Rating: 4/5

Create a Graph LogoOh, Excel….we’ve had a long and rocky relationship. We became close, really close, many years ago with my first job that often was glorified data entry. The department didn’t want to invest the money in hiring someone to build an actual database for information, so we used hundreds of Excel pages to store thousands of cells of information. Nonetheless, your clean lines and basic structure appeal to my straight-laced aesthetic. All that and you can make graphs and charts, too. But, that’s where we get complicated….figuring out which rows represent which part of my future graph compels me to invest more time in our relationship than I want to spare. Alas, I have found an Internet tool that does the work for me and produces a basic looking pie chart. Don’t worry Excel, my relationship with Create a Graph means nothing (except when I just need to make a pie chart without much thought). But, Excel, please don’t ask what I’ve been doing with Google Sheets lately.

Goal: Create a pie chart without Word or Excel because this software can sometimes just overwhelm me with options or frustrate me when I’m not patient enough to use it correctly.

Create a Graph start page

This is the view that you start with, where you can choose the type of graph to create.

Benefits:

  • You can work through each tab of options quickly since there are defaults options already selected. It has fewer “clicks” than the tool in Word, though it’s essentially the same, but a generic version.
  • I can download a version of the graphic, or email it as HTML or text.
  • It’s an internet tool that is easy to use by plugging in values and allowing it to generate the corresponding chart.
  • There is a tutorial and examples, though I didn’t explore them because it all seemed self explanatory.

Drawbacks:

  • It is not very fancy output, especially with the other chart options (see sample below).
  • The black lines look fairly “pixelated,” but you can choose a 3D version that does not use black lines as dividers.

Create a Graph workspace

After choosing a type of graph, this is the workspace. The tabs allow you to move back and forth between creation tasks.

Insider View: The site claims that the “classic” version is easier to use, but I don’t agree. Here is a link to the classic version of the tool: http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/graphing/classic/

Final Thoughts: I like the tool when I’m afraid that I’ll be distracted by all the options in Word (or confused by Excel). I would certainly recommend this tool for a novice user who doesn’t want to learn Word/Excel, but can insert a graphic into a document. The tool is designed for children, which can be both a benefit and drawback, I guess.

Link: http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/

 

 

Samples:

Sample pie chart graphic

This is the basic output of the tool. I did some color changes during the design process, just to make sure the differences were clear, though the gray-green Grammar-Style looks a little too much like the light gray.

Sample bar graph graphic

As you can see, it’s a pretty simple output.

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