Reading Graphs

Graphs are visuals with bars going vertically or horizontally or lines that zigzag used to show comparisons between two or more different items. They usually feature numerical data, and they may show changes over time. For example, a graph may be used to show the growth in sales of various makes of automobiles over a period of time. The numbers shown in bar graphs are most often approximate, and there are ranges. Graphs can be horizontal,vertical, or lines. Usually horizontal bar graphs show comparisons at a specific point in time, and vertical bar graphs show growth over time. Line graphs can show the ups and downs over a period of time (think of stock market reports).

Horizontal bar graphs
Vertical bar graphs
Line graphs

Reading Pie Charts

Pie charts are visuals that look like pies with slices used to show numerical data as percentages of a whole. They can be used to show sales for a company, showing, for example, the percentages of Hondas, Mazdas, and Nissans sold in one month at a used car dealership. They could also be used to show the percentage of work completed by each technical professional in a company.

Reading Schematics

Schematics are visuals used to show how the parts of a piece of equipment are attached to each other or how a technical process occurs. Examples could include drawings showing the major parts of an engine or the path refrigerant takes through an air conditioning system. Technicians need to use schematics for much of their work, so these are important illustrations to pay attention to in technical textbooks.
When you study schematics, you should make note of the title, the section of the text it refers to, the parts of the equipment or the steps in the process that are shown in the schematic, and the way the parts are attached.

Please answer the following questions about schematics.

What is the title of the schematic? Do not refer to the figure number.
What section of the text is the schematic related to (give the title of the section and use a highlighter pen to draw an arrow to the reference in the text).
What parts of the equipment/machine are shown? Please list them in a logical order (from left to right, etc.,). If this is a schematic of process, please name the stages of the process.
How are the parts attached? Are they bolted, welded, soldered, stapled, glued, etc.,?
How does the schematic relate to the text? How does it clarify or explain difficult or important points in the text?

Reading Flowcharts

Flowcharts are visuals with boxes or arrows used to show organizational structures, steps in a process or procedure, or questions to ask to diagnose problems with a piece of equipment.
Organizational flowcharts
Organizational flowcharts usually show how different divisions within an organization are linked to each other or the chain of command for employees of a corporation or other organization. These types of flowcharts may not be very useful in the daily work of most technicians, but process and procedural flowcharts may be very significant for technical professionals.

Procedural flowcharts

Procedural flowcharts may show the steps from a customer bringing an automobile in for repairs, through the diagnosis, assignment of work on the auto until the completion of the repair, and the return of the auto to its owner. Process flowcharts show the steps involved in technical processes, such as the repair of a carburetor.
Diagnostic troubletrees
Diagnostic troubletrees look like family trees and ask questions, and depending on the answer (frequently yes or no), the technician will follow a path that leads to a diagnosis of a problem with a machine or piece of equipment. Technicians in aeronautics, automotive, air conditioning, diesel, and other fields dealing with the repair and maintenance of equipment use troubletrees on a daily basis.

Reading Tables

Tables are visuals which organize large quantities of numerical data. If the numbers need to be precise and specific, then they will be presented in a table; if they can be approximate estimates, then they can go in a bar graph. Numbers such as precise measurements for quantities of oil and gas mixtures could be presented in a table. Usually you will use tables as reference material when performing procedures.


In some textbooks, especially in the liberal arts, but also in professional and technical fields, it may be more productive to use mind-mapping techniques than question-answer reading notes for certain chapters in order to see certain types of relationships.
Why would I want to use mind-mapping techniques?
Mind-mapping techniques take advantage of the visual learning skills of the brain, which many students, especially men, are very strong in.

Mind-mapping can also make transfer to long-term memory easy because it uses both sides of the brain.

What is mind-mapping and how do I make a mind-map?

Mind-mapping is a way of taking reading notes that lets you "see" the relationships between ideas by laying them out in a very visual way, using balloons, bubbles, arrows, lines, and rough sketches. Mind-maps use key words, not sentences, with the balloons, bubbles, and sketches, to get the main points of a chapter or part of a chapter.
Mind maps are particularly useful for students in technical fields to help in learning processes and procedures. Examples of these include how the internal combustion engine works, how to maintain compressors, how to build a staircase.

Mind maps can also be helpful in professional fields for processes, such as the criminal justice system from arrest to conviction, the process for dealing with child abuse victims, the process for putting out chemical fires.

Mind maps can help in the liberal arts also, for learning processes such as

How the digestive system works?
How a President is elected?
How the stock market operates?
How to Choose a Computer?
What do I want to do?
Ask yourself some questions when it comes to choosing a computer.
How much do I have to spend?
Research what's available Computer magazines
Consumer Reports
Internet websites for different brands and or stores?
Ask store employees and computer owners questions like...
How much speed and memory, do I need?
What features (cd-roms, dvds, etc., do I need?
What is the warranty?
What service is available?
What is a good store, or website to buy from?
What do you wish you knew before you bought your computer?
Think about what you can live with and without Re-visit the stores and websites to eliminate poor choices. Make a good choice when it comes to How to Choosing a Computer?


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