bar chart

51 posts
Excel is the graveyard of charts, no!

It's true that Excel is responsible for large numbers of horrible charts. I just came across a typical example recently: This figure comes from Edward Wolff's 2012 paper, "The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class." It's got all the hallmarks of Excel defaults. It's not a pleasing object to look at. However, it's also true that Excel can be used to make nice charts. Here is...

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The salaries are attractive but the chart isn’t

The only reason why the IEEE Spectrum magazine editors chose this chart form is because they think they need to deliver precise salary figures to readers. This chart is just so... sad. The color scheme is all wrong, the black suggesting a funeral. The printed data occupying at least half of the width of each bar frustrate any attempt to compare lengths. We enter an unusual place where higher numbers...

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Details, details, details: giving Zillow a pie treatment

This chart (shown right), published by Zillow in a report on housing in 2012, looks quite standard, apparently avoiding the worst of Excel defaults. In real estate, it’s all about location. In dataviz, it’s all about details. What are some details that I caught my eye on this chart? Readers have to get over the hurdle that “negative equity” is the same as “underwater homes.” This is not readily understood...

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Speed demon quartered and shrunk

Reader Richard K. submitted a link to Microsoft Edge's website. This chart uses three speedometers to tell the story that Microsoft's Edge browser is faster than Chrome or Firefox. These speedometer charts are disguised racetrack charts. Read last week's post first if you haven't. Richard complained the visual design distorting the data. How the distortion entered the picture is a long story. Let's begin with an accurate representation of the...

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Starstruck and doubled over: losing poise over Indian charts

Twitter follower @ashwink_s didn't see eye-to-eye with the following charts that appeared in an Indian publication. There is the infamous racetrack chart: In the racetrack chart, the designer has embedded data in the angles at the center of the concentric circles but the visual cues point to the arc lengths. If the same proportion of people voted Yes as voted No, the two arcs should look like this: The length...

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Chart: If Ousted, Jeff Sessions Would Have a Historically Short Tenure

If President Trump decides after all to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was approved just 166 days ago, the former Alabama senator would have one of the shortest tenures in history. More than 80 Americans have been the nation’s top law enforcement officer as cabinet members, rather than acting placeholders. That list includes 39 Republicans and 30 Democrats. Another 13 attorneys general from other parties (Whig, Federalist, etc.) have...

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Another simple Excel chart needs help

Twitter friend Jimmy A. asked if I can help Elon Musk make this chart "more readable". Let's start with a couple of things he did right. Placing SpaceX, his firm's data, at the bottom of the chart is perfect, as the bottom part of a stacked column chart is the only part that is immediately readable. Combining all of Europe into one category and Other U.S. into one group reduce...

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This one takes time to make, takes even more time to read

Reader Matt F. contributed this confusing chart from Wired, accompanying an article about Netflix viewing behavior.  Matt doesn't like this chart. He thinks the main insight - most viewers drop out after the first episode - is too obvious. And there are more reasons why the chart doesn't work. This is an example of a high-effort, low-reward chart. See my return-on-effort matrix for more on this subject. The high effort...

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The art of arranging bars

Twitter friend Janie H. asked how I would visualize a hypothetical third column of this chart that contains the change from 2016 to 2017: This table records the results from a survey question by eMarketer, asking respondents ("marketers") to identify their top 5 technology priorities in the next 12 months. I suggested the following: A hype-chasing phenomemon is clearly at play. Internet of Things and wearable technology are so last...

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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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