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Plotlines, a presentation technique more advanced than timelines

In-house counsel who need to present complicated material to clients or outside counsel should consider the advantages of a plotline. As a visualization tool, timelines leave much to be desired (See my post of Feb. 16, 2008: flowcharts and summaries.). “A plotline is more challenging to the audience. But, it is orders of magnitude more interesting. We were able to combine a flow chart, two line graphs, a pie graph, a bullet-point list and a traditional timeline into a single, coherent plotline – and we were still able to leave plenty of white space in our design.”

This quote comes from The Jury Expert, where the author explains in a post various aspects of a plotline. For instance, the title explains the meaning of the Plotline. As the least important elements, the time bar and the graph value lines are colorless and recede into the background. Informative material is color coded: “The purple group, the green group, the red group and the yellow group each have their meaning, and each are tied one to another to provide cause-effect links that follow logically in a common sense world.” There are summary statements (red, orange, green and black) which reiterate the story. Each entry is brief with little in the way of detail. Evidence supporting each entry should be explored in detail separately.

Automated tools are available to help lawyers and their administrative staff produce plotlines, such as TimeMap and TimelineXpress, by inData.

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