Area chart

6 posts
Some like it packed, some like it piled, and some like it wrapped

In addition to Xan's "packed bars" (which I discussed here), there are some related efforts to improve upon the treemap. To recap, treemap is a design to show parts against the whole, and it works by packing rectangles into the bounding box. Frequently, this leads to odd-shaped rectangles, e.g. really thin and really tall ones, and it asks readers to estimate relative areas of differently-scaled boxes. We often make mistakes...

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Unintentional deception of area expansion #bigdata #piechart

Someone sent me this chart via Twitter, as an example of yet another terrible pie chart. (I couldn't find that tweet anymore but thank you to the reader for submitting this.) At first glance, this looks like a pie chart with the radius as a second dimension. But that is the wrong interpretation. In a pie chart, we typically encode the data in the angles of the pie sectors, or...

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An example of focusing the chart on a message

Via Jimmy Atkinson on Twitter, I am alerted to this chart from the Wall Street Journal. The title of the article is "Fiscal Constraints Await the Next President." The key message is that "the next president looks to inherit a particularly dismal set of fiscal circumstances." Josh Zumbrun, who tipped Jimmy about this chart on Twitter, said that it is worth spending time on. I like the concept of the...

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If Clinton and Trump go to dinner, do they sit face to face, or side by side?

One of my students tipped me to an August article in the Economist, published when last the media proclaimed Donald Trump's campaign in deep water. The headline said "Donald Trump's Media Advantage Falters." Who would have known, judging from the chart that accompanies the article? There is something very confusing about the red line, showing "Trump August 2015 = 1." The data are disaggregated by media channel, and yet the...

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The many-faced area chart is not usually your best choice

I found this chart about the exploding U.S. debt levels in ZeroHedge (link), sourced from Citibank. The top line story is pretty easy to see: total debt levels have almost reached the peak of the 1930s. (Ignore that dreadful labeling of the years on the horizontal axis.) Now, the three colors supposedly carry further insights related to the components of the debt. The problem is it is very hard to...

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Finding meaning in Big Blue California

Via Twitter, Pat complained that this Bloomberg graphic is confusing: The accompanying article is here. The gist of the report is that electric cars are much more popular on the West coast because the fuel efficiency of such cars goes down dramatically in colder climates. (Well, there are political reasons too, also discussed in the article.) What makes this chart confusing? Our eyes are drawn to big blue California, and...

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