We’ve all hear the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is especially true when creating technical reports. Tables and figures can instantly clarify data or trends described in your document. Unlike an appendix, tables and figures should be placed in the context of the document rather than at the end.

Tables can come in many different styles and standards, but there are a few guidelines that you should always follow: Always use Microsoft excel or the table function in Microsoft word when creating a table, never try to make a table using tabs. If possible, use portrait style orientation for your table, this makes the table easier to read and consistent with the rest of the document. Tables should be self-explanatory and not refer back to the text.

Charts, graphs, maps, and pictures are all considered figures. As with tables, there are many different ways to format figures, but there are a few universal guidelines: When using colors in a graph, use a few distinct shades, since some colors are not easily distinguishable on paper. Make sure figures large enough to be readable. However, keep in mind that most 3-year olds don’t care about fish populations or hydroelectric power.  You aren’t making a picture book for them so don’t fill up an entire page with each figure.