Graph Makers

Making Graphs Using Online Tools


We will be focusing on graph making tools using online tools. Excel is a great tool for making graphs; however, not everyone has Microsoft Office installed on their computers. In addition, Microsoft Office is expensive, so using online tools for graph making is a great way to cut costs, which is helpful for any college student. Speaking as a college student on behalf of college students buying books is costly enough and adding computer software can put the bill over the limit. With free internet access on campus, online tools are extremely handy and free!

Graph making is very useful in many different areas of the academic world. It is a great way to visually support data and emphasize details. Just seeing numbers can be very confusing to some and great detail may be lost in translation. By showing numbers and supporting them with a graph the viewer can better understand a concept. Graphs can be used for complex or simple presentations in classes ranging from science to business. Not only is it helpful for students but for teachers as well!

We limited our tools through a process of trial and error. Before settling on Edit Grid, Google Docs, and Num Sum we tried many programs. For our analysis we chose to use simple data for a line graph and thus selected the three easiest programs. We chose to plot the average temperature during the twelve months of the year in Colorado. I've had to graph similar data while taking classes in college which made this a reasonable test. Using this test we also compared the capabilities of the online programs to those of excel. This way we could confidently recommend the web site tool to other college students.

TOOL 1: EditGrid

Creation of the graph:

The execution of making a graph on was easy and complicated at the same time. Inserting your data and turning it into the actual graph is simple and quick to do, yet adding titles and labels became confusing. Usually when editing a graph a toolbar pops up to assist you in doing so, but in EditGrid, you must left click in order to edit your graph and add titles and labels. This was a distinct difference between EditGrid and Microsoft Excel. The website was a bit slow to respond at times but was efficient overall.


Readability of the graph:

The graph is clear and easy to read. After formatting our title and axis labels the graph looks professional, and is consistent with a traditional line graph. We were given the options to create a graph with or without data points which can be a major factor when it comes to readability of the graph. Without data points it can be difficult to interpret the information. EditGrid made the graph long enough to distinguish the difference between the points. The size can always be physically changed, yet the automatic feature was impressive. Overall EditGrid created a graph that would be similar to one created in Excel, yet difficulty creating labels, and the inability to copy and paste the graph were major differences.


Uploading your graph into a word document:

Graphs made on EditGrid are unable to be inserted or copy and pasted into a word document. The only way to import your graph from EditGrid into a word document is by taking a screenshot of the graph, and then inserting it from your saved files. However if screenshots are not an option EditGrid also allowed the user to copy the permalink where the graph can be found. If this is inserted into a presentation it could be copied as a url and the graph can be viewed online.

TOOL 2: Google Docs

Creation of the graph:

Making a line graph in Google Docs was very easy. Inserting your data is simple. There is a strange grey bar under row 1, we just disregarded and inserted our data as normal. The bar is intended to sort your data, in our case it would have been sorted as month in column 1 and temperature in column 2. There is no graph icon on the toolbar of Google Docs, so in order to create one you have to go to the "Insert" drop-down menu and select "chart." Adding the titles and labels in Google Docs is definitely the easiest of all three tools because they give you the option to do it immediately when creating the graph.


Readability of the graph:

The graph is easy to read and appears as a traditional line graph. Google Docs also has the widest variety of line graph options making this a flexible tool. In this respect Google Docs is the most similar to Microsoft Excel. The toolbar offers the user options to use or not use a trend line with or without data points. The option to insert axis titles makes the chart exceptionally easy to read.


Uploading your graph into a word document:

Google Docs is the only tool that allows you to copy and paste your graph directly into a word document. It's easy to do and your graph will look exactly the same as it did on Google Docs' spreadsheet once you insert it into a word document.

TOOL 3: NumSum

Creation of the graph:

Creating a line graph in NumSum was easy when it came to inserting the data and turning it into the graph. Editing the graph on the other hand was very difficult to do, and our graph was still not edited exactly the way we wanted it to be. When creating the graph you can add a title, but there is no where to add horizontal or vertical axis labels. NumSum had no way of sorting the data like google docs as well as no variety options for line graph style.

Readability of the graph:

The graph is clear and easy to read, the only problem is that there is no way to add horizontal or vertical axis labels so depending on your data, it might be impossible to read. The graph looks like your average line graph yet has no data points. With no axis titles the graph is literally useless unless you physically print the graph and write them in, or are standing by to explain it. NumSum created a graph that is probably farthest from the quality of a graph made in Microsoft Excel. It lacks the multitude of options, and availability to edit that a college student may require.


Uploading your graph into a word document:

NumSum does not permit you to copy and paste your graph directly into a word document. The only way to move your graph into a word document is by taking a screen shot of your graph and then inserting that picture into your word document from your saved files. It is possible that there is an easier way to export the graph yet we could not figure it out and gave up after half an hour. We were very dissatisfied with the amount of time we spent on NumSum without successfully exporting the graph. We would not recommend this graph to anyone looking to make timely graph presentations.


All three tools tested made very effective graphs, however Google Docs and EditGrid were significantly easier to use. NumSum was definitely the worst of the three tools, we would not recommend this tool to anyone so long as EditGrid or Google Docs are an alternate option. NumSum was difficult to edit, was the worst to read due to a lack of labels, and could not be directly inserted into a word document.

EditGrid was both effective and easy. The line graph was easy to make, easy to edit, and easy to read. There was some degree of difficulty involved in labeling the axis' and creating a title. Another problem with EditGrid was that you could not insert your graph directly into a word document, but that can be easily overcome by using screen shots.

The graph made on Google Docs was the most professional looking, easy to make, and could be inserted directly into a word document. From our observation the Google Docs line graph was most similar to a line graph made with Microsoft Excel. It allowed for the most flexibility and provided the numerous options for different styled line graphs. Overall we would recommend using Google Docs to create professional looking line graphs in the image of Excel for any presentation.

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