Composition

42 posts
Steel tariffs, and my new dataviz seminar

I am developing a new seminar aimed at business professionals who want to improve their ability to communicate using charts. I want any guidance to be tool-agnostic, so that attendees can implement them using Excel if that’s their main charting software. Over the 12+ years that I’ve been blogging, certain ideas keep popping up; and I have collected these motifs and organized them for the seminar. This post is about...

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A gem among the snowpack of Olympics data journalism

It's not often I come across a piece of data journalism that pleases me so much. Here it is, the "Happy 700" article by Washington Post is amazing.   When data journalism and dataviz are done right, the designers have made good decisions. Here are some of the key elements that make this article work: (1) Unique The topic is timely but timeliness heightens both the demand and supply of...

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Two nice examples of interactivity

Janie on Twitter pointed me to this South China Morning Post graphic showing off the mighty train line just launched between north China and London (!) Scrolling down the page simulates the train ride from origin to destination. Pictures of key regions are shown on the left column, as well as some statistics and other related information. The interactivity has a clear purpose: facilitating cross-reference between two chart forms. The...

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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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Sorting out what’s meaningful and what’s not

A few weeks ago, the New York Times Upshot team published a set of charts exploring the relationship between school quality, home prices and commute times in different regions of the country. The following is the chart for the New York/New Jersey region. (The article and complete data visualization is here.) This chart is primarily a scatter plot of home prices against school quality, which is represented by average test...

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Your charts need the gift of purpose

Via Twitter, I received this chart: My readers are nailing it when it comes to finding charts that deserve close study. On Twitter, the conversation revolved around the inversion of the horizontal axis. Favorability is associated with positive numbers, and unfavorability with negative numbers, and so, it seems the natural ordering should be to place Favorable on the right and Unfavorable on the left. Ordinarily, I'd have a problem with...

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Much more to do after selecting a chart form

I sketched out this blog post right before the Superbowl - and was really worked up as I happened to be flying into Atlanta right after they won (well, according to any of our favorite "prediction engines," the Falcons had 95%+ chance of winning it all a minute from the end of the 4th quarter!) What I'd give to be in the SuperBowl-winning city the day after the victory! Maybe...

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Involuntary head-shaking is probably not an intended consequence of data visualization

This chart is in the Sept/Oct edition of Harvard Magazine: Pretty standard fare. It even is Tufte-sque in the sparing use of axes, labels, and other non-data-ink. Does it bug you how much work you need to do to understand this chart? Here is the junkchart version: In the accompanying article, the journalist declared that student progress on NAEP tests came to a virtual standstill, and this version highlights the...

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