A chartbook is a comprehensive report that presents the most complete data available on a particular industry, specialty, or topic. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has produced a chartbook to present all data available about health in the U.S. A chartbook may run between 100 and 300 pages. A majority of the document will be tables and figures with little narrative or discussion. The purpose is to illustrate all that is known about a given topic based solely on the most recent available data.

General Rules

  • A chartbook has no research question and presents all that is known from the data source.
  • Chartbooks should be revised and updated when new data files are released.

Recommendations for Format

Format will vary widely. If a previous chartbook has been written based on the same dataset or source, replicate the previous format. General recommendations include:

  • Creating a table of contents, followed by a separate list of tables and figures.
  • Have clear organization and distinct sections/subsections of data.
  • Include an executive summary, introduction, or brief highlight of the report to address data source(s), purpose, and to provide a guide for the remainder of the document.
  • Each section of topic specific data should have a brief introduction following the header.
  • Graphics should include a short narrative to describe a finding or topic of consideration.
  • Appendices should include a discussion of the data source(s) and a glossary that includes acronyms.
  • Do not include a final summary, conclusion, or discussion.


  • In the title, or in the reference, it is referred to as chartbook (one word) not chart book.
  • Use consistent language, tense, and variable names throughout.

Graphic Design and Layout

  • Graphs must be clear and easy to understand.
  • Presentation and format of graphs and tables need to be consistent throughout the document, including the colors chosen for each graph.
  • If particular variables are measured and presented in a majority of the graphs, maintain the color scheme (for example: green for rural, red for urban; gray for men, blue for women).