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Visualization Tip: Excel's Data Validation Empowers Effective Technical Communication


Data Validation improves data quality and data visualizations. Are you Communicating with FINESSE?
Data Validation improves data quality and data visualizations. Are you Communicating with FINESSE?

Using the Data Validation feature in Excel improves visualizations by ensuring data accuracy, consistency, and reliability. Using the function is a key step for making sure visualizations accurately represent the underlying data. For technical professionals, Data Validation empowers effective communication.


Data Validation in Excel

Data Validation in Excel controls what users can input into a cell or a range of cells. It acts as a gatekeeper by defining rules for data entry.


Advantages of Data Validation for Visualizations

1. Data Consistency

Data Validation guarantees uniformity across datasets by enforcing predefined criteria.


2. Improved Data Integrity

Data Validation significantly reduces the chances of flawed visualizations caused by invalid or out-of-range data.


3. Streamlined User Input

It simplifies user input by offering dropdown lists, date selection tools, or custom error prompts.


4. Cleaner Data Sets

Users can confidently analyze trends, patterns, and relationships within the data.


Disadvantages to Consider

1. Complexity in Setup

Creating validation rules often requires a deeper understanding of Excel's functionalities.


2. Limitations in Flexibility

The rigidity of predefined rules restricts data entry. This rigidity causes frustration if the criteria are incorrect or the required inputs are not anticipated.


3. Potential Overlooked Validation

Users can bypass data validation rules, especially when copying data or importing from external sources, leading to inadvertent errors.


Is Data Validation an Advanced Excel Feature?

Intermediate users can implement Data Validation. It is not considered an advanced function.


The Data Validation function restricts the type of data or the values that users enter into a cell
The Data Validation function restricts the type of data or the values that users enter into a cell

How To Do It

  1. Select Data

  2. Select Data Validation.

  3. In the allow dropdown, select one of the options (such as time).

  4. Set the limits (like start and end times).

  5. Select Input Message and customize a message users will see when entering data.

  6. Select Error Alert to customize the error message and message style if data is added incorrectly.

  7. Select "Okay."

  8. Select the cell to see the input message.

  9. Enter data.

  10. The error alert will appear if data is outside the parameters.

 

What Is Graphical Excellence?

Graphical excellence involves creating visuals that effectively convey information, enabling viewers to grasp insights quickly and accurately. Edward Tufte first coined the phrase and cited graphical excellence as a function of substance, statistics, and design. Excel and the Data Visualization function are essential for the first two aspects.


Conclusion

The I in the FINESSE cause-and-effect diagram stands for Illustrations. Data Validation in Excel contributes to the overall improvement of data quality, directly impacting your visualizations' accuracy, reliability, and effectiveness.


 

Communicating with FINESSE is a not-for-profit community of technical professionals dedicated to being highly effective communicators and facilitators. Learn more about our publications, webinars, and workshops. Join the community for free.

 

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