Area chart

11 posts
Why line charts are better than area charts

I saw this chart on Business Insider recently: This links to Market Insider, where there is a tool to make different types of charts. Despite the huge drop depicted above, by last week, the Dow Jones index has recovered to the level at the start of 2018: The same chart can be made as an area chart (called a "mountain chart" by Market Insider). The painting of the area serves...

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A chart Hans Rosling would have loved

I came across this chart from the OurWorldinData website, and this one would make the late Hans Rosling very happy. If you went to Professor Rosling's talk, he was bitter that the amazing gains in public health, worldwide (but particularly in less developed nations) during the last few decades have been little noticed. This chart makes it clear: note especially the dramatic plunge in extreme poverty, rise in vaccinations, drop...

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Choosing the right metric reveals the story behind the subway mess in NYC

I forgot who sent this chart to me - it may have been a Twitter follower. The person complained that the following chart exaggerated how much trouble the New York mass transit system (MTA) has been facing in 2017, because of the choice of the vertical axis limits. This chart is vintage Excel, using Excel defaults. I find this style ugly and uninviting. But the chart does contain some good...

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Let’s not mix these polarized voters as the medians run away from one another

Long-time follower Daniel L. sent in a gem, by the Washington Post. This is a multi-part story about the polarization of American voters, nicely laid out, with superior analyses and some interesting graphics. Click here to see the entire article. Today's post focuses on the first graphic. This one: The key messages are written out on the 2017 charts: namely, 95% of Republicans are more conservative than the median Democrat,...

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Let’s not mix these polarized voters as the medians run away from one another

Long-time follower Daniel L. sent in a gem, by the Washington Post. This is a multi-part story about the polarization of American voters, nicely laid out, with superior analyses and some interesting graphics. Click here to see the entire article. Today's post focuses on the first graphic. This one: The key messages are written out on the 2017 charts: namely, 95% of Republicans are more conservative than the median Democrat,...

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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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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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