Guides

15 posts
Visualizing the Uncertainty in Data

Data is an abstraction, and it's impossible to encapsulate everything it represents in real life. So there is uncertainty. Here are ways to visualize the uncertainty. Read More

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4 Tools to Pick Your Chart Colors

These are the quick and simple tools I use to pick colors to represent data. Read More

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Falling is Learning

I’ve been teaching my three-year-old son how to ride his bike on two wheels. When I first took off the training wheels, he quickly lost his balance and felt discouraged. He thought he would be able to ride far and fast right away. He felt stuck, and gaining the skill to ride seemed out of reach. I told him it was okay to fall. I used to fall all of...

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Useless Points of Comparison

Make sure you don't end up in an apples and oranges situation where the comparisons don't even make sense. Read More

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Summary Statistics Tell You Little About the Big Picture

Mean, median, and mode. These are the first things you learn about in your introductory statistics course. It’s often all you hear about when you see data in the news. People form policies for populations, based on the generalized numbers. However, these summary statistics can only tell you so much about a dataset, which means you can only learn a limited amount about what the data represents — the people,...

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How Histograms Work

The histogram is one of my favorite basic chart types, because it lets you quickly see the shape and distribution of a dataset. However, a lot of people don’t know… Read More

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How to Spot Visualization Lies

Many charts don't tell the truth. This is a simple guide to spotting them. Read More

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One Dataset, Visualized 25 Ways

“Let the data speak.” It’s a common saying for chart design. The premise — strip out the bits that don’t help patterns in your data emerge — is fine, but people often misinterpret the mantra to mean that they should make a stripped down chart and let the data take it from there. You have to guide the conversation though. You must help the data focus and get to the...

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Find the Data You Need, 2016 Edition

This is an update to the guide I wrote in 2009, which as it turns out, is now mostly outdated. So, 2016. Here we go. Read More

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Learning R Versus d3.js for Visualization

For those who work with R and d3.js, the differences between the two are obvious. But for those who are brand new to this world, the names might as well be gibberish. This quick primer is for the latter group. So R or d3.js for visualization? People ask me this fairly often, because I usually mention the two at the end of of my interactives. Here’s the quick answer: If...

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