Beautiful Spreadsheets

What Picasso Can Teach Us About Spreadsheets

Mar 6, 2017(edit)

We’ve looked at the most important consideration in spreadsheets and that is the data-ink ratio, a word coined by statistician Edward Tufte in the 1980s in his book Beautiful Evidence. We’ve looked at the importance of value, proximity, enclosure, continuation, emphasis, color, and… View More

Let Your Spreadsheet Speak, Without Speaking

Feb 23, 2017(edit)

One interesting thing about art is that it suggests ideas that are not on the piece itself. That’s how abstract art works. It all comes down to associations. Take Mark Rothko’s paintings for example, my favorite abstract art. His monumental rectangle paintings breathe with mysterious color.… View More

Stop Using Color In Your Spreadsheets

Feb 16, 2017(edit)

For a color photographer and a cyanotype artist to boot, I’m totally against color in spreadsheets and excel charts. I never use color unless I can’t achieve what I’m looking for, with the art principles that we’ve talked about such as proximity, enclosure, continuation. Most people use color to… View More

Create A Professional Looking Spreadsheet Using Art Principles

Feb 9, 2017(edit)

When I was doing my first accounting job, the tax partner who was reviewing my work said: “what is this spreadsheet about? Put a title on it.” When you’re twenty years old, any suggestion is interpreted as criticism, I never forgot this. I put a title on that spreadsheet. I started a series… View More

How To Simplify Spreadsheets Using the Continuation Art Principle

Nov 10, 2016(edit)

Last month I mentioned continuation. Continuation refers to our mind’s tendency to continue or repeat something if there is a hint of direction. You see one line instead of two. You see a circle instead of two arcs.   You can use this tendency to your advantage. You can choose to start… View More

Creating Beautiful Spreadsheets using the Enclosure Art Principle

Oct 14, 2016(edit)

“Jonah, I have to disagree with you on the white space you talked about last week.” We’ve been humming along, looking at how art principles can improve spreadsheets, making them presentable, understandable, and beautiful. We’ve looked a conceptual framework for sending a message by way of… View More

Using Negative Space in Spreadsheets

Oct 7, 2016(edit)

Things that are close together will be grouped together. Things that are separate will be taken as separate. This art principle is called proximity. This grouping function of the mind is non-verbal and pre-cognitive (i.e. you don’t have to think about it), it’s just something that you do… View More

Value: The Hidden Opportunity in Spreadsheets

Sep 30, 2016(edit)

Now let’s go into the visual aspects of presenting spreadsheets. As mentioned before, combining denotation and connotation forms a complete message of a photograph or in our case, a spreadsheet. I also said that these two have to be in sync. Now comes visual language. The visual language of the… View More

This Is Not An Apple

Aug 23, 2016(edit)

Have you looked at a photograph and said, “Why would anyone photograph that?” Usually when this happens, it’s because we’re missing the connotation. So let’s recap a bit. Denotation are all those things that are shown -in- a photograph. Anything printed on a piece of paper or shown onscreen like… View More

Denotation in Photographs and Spreadsheets

Aug 12, 2016(edit)

So two weeks ago, I recommended turning off the grid in Microsoft Excel to get a sense of spaciousness. Turning off the grid increases analytical ability by removing non-data junk. You become a better number cruncher as a result. Last week, I shared my perspective on the analytical phase of… View More

Getting Lost in The Forest

Aug 3, 2016(edit)

This post is part II of How to Improve Your Spreadsheets Using Art Principles. You can read Part I here. You’ve turned off the grid. So what do you now? Well, it depends on what type of spreadsheet analysis you need to do. Is it typical or new? There’s no point in recreating the wheel if someone… View More

How To Improve Your Spreadsheet Using Art Principles, Part I

Jul 24, 2016(edit)

One day at work, I realized that I was looking at a spreadsheet as if it were a photograph. I was using color, placement, emphasis, balance, size, rhythm, and focus for maximum impact. I was thinking of who, what, when, where, and why. I wanted my audience to instantly äóìget it”äóîwithout… View More

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