Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

Constructing Single-Subject Reversal Design Graphs Using Microsoft word[TM]: A Comprehensive Tutorial

Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

Constructing Single-Subject Reversal Design Graphs Using Microsoft word[TM]: A Comprehensive Tutorial

Article excerpt

The single-subject reversal design graph is a critical element to basic research and applied behavior analysis. This technical tutorial gives thorough instructions for creating a reversal graph with most recent versions of Microsoft Word including Word for Windows 2003 and for Mac 2004. Directions for use with prior versions of this program are included. Following these step-by-step instructions will yield graphs that conform to the Manuscript Preparation Checklist in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (2000).

Key words: single-subject reversal design, MS Word (tm) graphs, tutorial


Graphic representation of repeated measurement data is critical in basic research and applied behavior analysis. The purpose of this tutorial is to produce single subject design (SSD) graphs using Microsoft Word (tm) while conforming to the Manuscript Preparation Checklist (Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2000). (1)

Microsoft Word is an excellent, ubiquitous word processing program and has several features that make it well-suited to create graphs. For example, it has built-in flexible graphing features, and the resulting diagrams can be used in presentations, printed for journal submission, or posted into presentation program such as PowerPoint. Furthermore, by following the directions in this tutorial, it is possible to save templates, allowing the reader to create multiple SSD graphs while only changing data points and labels. Using templates lessens the amount of formatting needed to properly produce SSD graphs. Microsoft Excel also provides graphing abilities (Carr & Burkholder, 1998; Moran & Hirschbine, 2002), but using the features built into Word saves time and reduces the issues related to converting graphs for use in word processing or presentation software.

Both Microsoft Word 2003 for Windows and Word 2004 for Macintosh are covered in this tutorial. These directions also apply to prior versions; however, each one includes minor variations in procedure. When possible, comments are included to allow users of prior versions to successfully complete these steps. This tutorial assumes the reader has a working knowledge of their operating system, but no experience with Word's charting features. Remember to save your work often while developing a SSD graph.

Starting the Word Document for Graphing

To begin production of a SSD graph, start with an open Word document. Click on the Insert menu at the top of the screen and select the menu item labeled "Object ..." A dialog box of options titled "Object" will appear. Under the file tab "Create New," scroll down the list and click on item labeled "Microsoft Graph Chart" and click "OK." Note that Word refers to graphs as "charts." A separate window entitled "Datasheet" will appear. Sample data is included in the spreadsheet and by default the chart contains a bar graph of the sample data. You will be replacing the sample data and reformatting the graph, but before doing so, it is necessary to become oriented to how Word handles chart editing.

Orienting to the Chart Editing Environment

Word is a multifunction program, and chart editing is handled separately from word processing. An application named "Microsoft Graph" handles chart editing. Different versions of Word vary with how explicit these two environments are from each other. For example, with recent Windows PC versions, Microsoft Graph is fully integrated within the Word window so that when a chart is selected, the relevant tools and menus appear in Word.

When you click away from the chart to deselect it, the menus and buttons go back to those intended to edit text. Double clicking the chart area engages chart editing capabilities. In contrast, on the Mac, Microsoft Graph is launched automatically as a separate application when the user "double clicks" the chart. Once the reader has finished editing the graph, quitting the Graph application on the Mac returns the user into Word to edit the text. …

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