Power Tools for Technical Communication:
Creating Charts


In this lab, you follow directions for creating charts using your preferred software:
  1. For each item, create the title, axis labels, legends, and other elements according to the instructions.
  2. Review the steps for creating charts in Chapter 10 of Processes in Technical Communication as necessary.
  3. Either show your instructor your completed work; or put your name, Charts: Print, and the date on this document, and print it out for your instructor.


  1. Create a pie chart depicting the sources of electricity generation in northern China (specifically, the area including Beijing, Tianjin, and parts of Inner Mongolia, Hebei, and Shanxi). 94.1% of the electricity is generated by coal; 5.35% by oil; and 0.528% with hydro. Include a figure title below this chart with Figure 1 as the label; a descriptive title; and this additional information and source reference: "In 1993, the total generation was 110 TWh and capacity was 22 GW [NCPG, 1993]."

  2. Create a bar chart (Microsoft Office calls the vertical type "column" charts"; the vertical type, "bar" charts) that shows the 1995 combined cycle and 1997 photovoltaic power plants each rated at 28% CP. Source: 1990 Energy Technologies Status Report, California Energy Commission. For this bar chart, create a vertical axis labeled "30-Year Cost in Millions of U.S. Dollars," start at 0 and ending at 250. Make a red bar that reaches to 235 and blue bar to its immediate right that reaches to 23. Center a label under the horizontal axis for these bars entitled "80-Megawatt Photovoltaic Power Plant." Next to these two bar, create a red bar that reaches to 35 and blue bar to its immediate right that reaches to 175. Center a label under the horizontal axis for these bars entitled "80-Megawatt Natural-Gas Combined-Cycle Power Plant. Include a legend for this chart in which blue indicates operating cost and red indicates capital cost.

  3. Create a bar chat with the Figure 1. Residential Customer Participation in Windpower Programs (as of May 1998). Create a vertical axis labeled "Market penetration (%)" and with marks at 0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5. The horizontal axis TCL&P, Colorado Springs, PSCo, Ft. Collins, Holy Cross, Dakota Springs. The values are 2.3, 0.95, 0.7, 1.5, 1.8, 1.15, respectively. Place the title below the chart.

  4. Create a smoothed line graph depicting the diffusion of innovation (figure 3). Create a vertical axis labelled "Market penetration (%)" with marks including 0,20, 40, 60, 80, 100. Create a horizontal axis labelled "Times (years)" with marks including 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25. The line starts at year 0 at 0% penetration; at year 5, 4%; year 10, 18.5%; year 15, 39%; year 20, 57%; and year 25, 59.5%. As a part of the figure title, add this note: "Generally, innovators make up 2.5%; early adopters, 13.5%; early majority, 34%; late majority, 34%; and laggards, 16%." Precede this chart with the following text: "The classic diffusion model suggests that product demand often follows the standard 'S' curve, starting slowly, then proceeding through rapid growth before it tapers off (as shown in Figure 3). The rate of product diffusion depends on many factors, but experience with other product markets suggests it often takes 10 years or more for new products to significantly penetrate a market."

  5. Create a pie chart depicting the distribution of projected Mars Reference Mission costs: Phase A &B, 2%; cost of facilities, 8%; surface systems, 8%; Mars-to-Earth vehicle, 11%; habitats, 12%; descent vehicle, 6%; Earth-to-Mars vehicle, 18%; Earth-to-orbit vehicle, 26%; management, development, and program support, 12%. Entitle this figure "Figure 1-6. Distribution of Mars Reference Mission costs."

  6. Create a composite bar chart (one in which each bar represents several values) comparing the different plans for Mars exploration. Make the title Figure 3.5. Round-trip Mars mission comparisons. To fit the page, make the bars extend horizontally rather than vertically. The horizontal axis extends from 0 to 1000 with increments at each 100 and is labeled Mission Duration (in days). The vertical axis has labels for each bar as follows starting at the top: Long stay (minimum energy); Long stay (fast transit); and Short stay. Each of the three bars has an outbound transit segment, a time at destination segment, and a return transit segment (which are represented in a legend as black, white, and gray, respectively). For the top bar, the first segment stops at 200 days; the second, at 720; and the third, at 960. For the second bar, the values are 105, 730, and 860. For the third bar, the values are 215, 370, and 560.

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