Data labels

110 posts
Variance is a friend of dataviz

Seven years ago, I wrote a post about "invariance" in data visualization, which is something we should avoid (link). Yesterday, Business Insider published the following chart in an article about rising gas prices (link): The map shows the average prices at the pump in seven regions of the United States.  This chart is succeeded by the following map: This second map shows the change in average gas prices in the...

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Multicultural, multicolor, manufactured outrage

Twitter users were incensed by this chart: It's being slammed as one of the most outrageous charts ever. *** An image search reveals this chart form has international appeal. In Kazakh: In Turkish: In Arabic, but the image source is a Spanish company: In English, from an Indian source: In Russian: *** Some people are calling this a pie chart. But it isn't a pie chart since the slices clearly...

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Improving simple bar charts

Here's another bar chart I came across recently. The chart - apparently published by Kaggle - appeared to present challenges data scientists face in industry: This chart is pretty standard, and inoffensive. But we can still make it better. Version 1 I removed the decimals from the data labels. Version 2 Since every bar is labelled, is anyone looking at the axis labels? Version 3 You love axis labels. Then,...

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Easy breezy bar charts, perhaps

I came across the following bar chart (link), which presents the results of a survey of CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) on their attitudes toward data analytics. Responses are tabulated to the question about the most significant hurdle(s) against the increasing use of data and analytics for marketing. Eleven answers were presented, in addition to the catchall "Other" response. I'm unable to divine the rule used by the designer to sequence...

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Ringing in the data

There is a lot of great stuff at Visual Capitalist. This circular design isn't one of their best. *** A self-sufficiency test helps diagnose the problem. Notice that every data point is printed on the diagram. If the data labels were removed, there isn't much one can learn from the chart other than the ranking of countries from most indebted to least. It would be impossible to know the difference...

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Speaking to the choir

A friend found the following chart about the "carbon cycle", and sent me an exasperated note, having given up on figuring it out. The chart came from a report, and was reprinted in Ars Technica (link). The problem with the chart is that the designer is speaking to the choir. One must know a lot about the carbon cycle already to make sense of everything that's going on. We see...

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Come si dice donut in italiano

One of my Italian readers sent me the following "horror chart". (Last I checked, it's not Halloween.) I mean, people are selling these rainbow sunglasses. The dataset behind the chart is the market share of steel production by country in 1992 and in 2014. The presumed story is how steel production has shifted from country to country over those 22 years. Before anything else, readers must decipher the colors. This...

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Pies, bars and self-sufficiency

Andy Cotgreave asked Twitter followers to pick between pie charts and bar charts: The underlying data are proportions of people who say they won't get the coronavirus vaccine. I noticed two somewhat unusual features: the use of pies to show single proportions, and the aspect ratio of the bars (taller than typical). Which version is easier to understand? To answer this question, I like to apply a self-sufficiency test. This...

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Circular areas offer misleading cues of their underlying data

John M. pointed me on Twitter to this chart about the progress of U.S.'s vaccination campaign: This looks like a White House production, retweeted by WHO. John is unhappy about this nested bubble format, which I'll come back to later. Let's zoom in on what matters: An even bigger problem with this chart is the Q corner in our Trifecta Checkup. What is the question they are trying to address?...

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Atypical time order and bubble labeling

This chart appeared in a Charles Schwab magazine in Summer, 2019. This bubble chart does not print any data labels. The bubbles take our attention but the designer realizes that the actual values of the volatility are not intuitive numbers. The same is true of any standard deviation numbers. If you're told SD of a data series is 3, it doesn't tell you much by itself. I first transformed this...

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