When you want to write words, it’s only natural to choose Microsoft Word for the task.
But if you only used the application for writing you would be missing out on one of its less obvious strengths.
Word is great for creating visual representations of data or information on a page.
You can use it to create charts. You can use it to show maps. You can use it to illustrate your document with a screenshot.
When you look closely enough, Word is quite the Visual tool maestro.
Let’s Start with Charts
You could be forgiven for thinking Charts equals Excel. But Word can handle them beautifully, too.
A Column Chart allows you to illustrate comparative data across a range of values, such as monthly sales for a year. It can be presented in flat standard 2D or the fancier 3D format.
If you prefer the figures to be presented horizontally across the page, you can create a bar chart.
The 3D format is also an option for giving line charts and pie charts a different look.
The Line Chart is a popular way to portray trends with a visual. The information could relate to anything from monthly sales over a period of time to annual rainfall, temperature and sunshine levels.
A variation of the line chart is the Area Chart, where the difference between points on two sets of data is shaded in to highlight the relative gap at each stage.
A Life of Pie
If you wanted to show proportions or relative values, a Pie Chart is the way to go. Ideal for illustrating market share within your industry or sector, or diversity of employees for HR analysis. Word also offers the option of a ‘doughnut’ view.
Treemap and Sunburst are types of Hierarchy Chart to present block or radial relationships in visual form from the data.
Microsoft Word can also let you create Histograms and the wonderful-sounding Box and Whisker diagrams.
A histogram is like a bar chart but groups numbers into ranges. The height of each bar shows how many fall into each range. The Box and Whisker (sometimes called a boxplot) plots a spread of information. It is most useful for indicating whether a distribution is skewed or for spotting unusual features, known as outliers, in the data.
You probably didn’t expect to find that function in Microsoft Word.
Bring Out the Bubbles
If your need is to show the correlation between two sets of data, a Scatter Chart (also known as an XY chart) will serve well.
A variation of this is the Bubble Chart, where a third dimension is added, represented by the size of each bubble.
For example, you could have three scatter charts showing overall average points per game in a rugby match and average points for and against each win. Alternatively, you can represent the same information in a single bubble chart. The relative size of the ‘bubbles’ indicates the win ratios.
When you see one, it will all become clear.
Microsoft Word also lets you employ visually creative Waterfall, Funnel and Stock charts. Waterfall charts can be used for analytical purposes. A live variation of them can be used by traders to monitor currency market movements, for example.
The Combo function in Word, as the name suggests, allows you to combine two types of chart in one.
Mapping it All Out
Word can also handle maps, from a map of the world to a Google Map. It’s a useful way to illustrate or support data in a chart or text information in a document.
For example, a chart with the figures for regional sales could be linked to a map which highlights the regions. The same would work for a presentation of international branch performance on a global map.
Microsoft Word also gives you the option to create whole-brained Mind Maps or flow diagrams. Both provide a strong visual, which appeals to both the imaginative and logical side of the human brain.
Mind maps are great for brainstorming, generating and associating ideas, and also for planning. Flow diagrams can be used to show organisational structure and hierarchy, processes, cycles and relationships.
Give it Your Best Shot
Another visual feature of Word is the function that allows you to add screenshots. This could be a view of the current screen you are working on or one captured and already on file, ready to be inserted into a document.
Of course, you already know you can add pictures, taken from an online stock gallery or your own files or camera. Add the capacity to create shapes, icons 3D models and SmartArt, and you can really begin to grasp the visual power and potential of this popular Microsoft application.
As a VA, PA or EA, you may be asked to produce, edit or add polish to market reports, trend and forecast guides, thought leader content, summaries and guides.
And if creating E-books and lead magnets in Word is part of your working week, it’s worth knowing how to do that well. The right look, design and style can transform a ‘grey’ document into something jaw-dropping.
Charts, diagrams, maps and screenshots will play their part. They make it easier for people to take in, analyse and understand data – especially if the numbers are complex. The visuals make for more interesting and readable material.
Remember, Microsoft Word is not just a word tool. It’s a visual tool.