Testing the Feasibility of Small Multiples of Sparklines to Display Semimonthly Income Statement Data
40 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2012
Date Written: September 4, 2012
This paper tests the ability of 129 accounting students to look up data, perceive and compare data patterns, and detect anomalies when the amount of information in traditional single page three-year comparative income statements is expanded 25-fold by adding semimonthly data to the page in graphical form. Participants were able to use the graphs to perform most tasks correctly more often than not. Tabular presentation of the same 1,100 to 2,000 data points required six pages. Participants using the one-page income statements with embedded graphs were better able to identify and compare patterns than those using multi-page tables, but had less success looking up precise data values. The results on pattern recognition and comparison are consistent with the proximity compatibility principle.
Keywords: Graphics, financial statement display, sparklines, small multiples, interim reporting, proximity compatibility principle
JEL Classification: M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation