Data labels

20 posts
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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I made a streamgraph

The folks at FiveThirtyEight were excited about the following dataviz they published last week two weeks ago, illustrating the progression of vote-counting by state. (link) That was indeed the unique and confusing feature of the 2020 Presidential election in the States. For those outside the U.S., what happened (by and large) was that many Americans, skewing Biden supporters, voted by mail before Election Day but their votes were sometimes counted...

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This holiday retailers hope it will snow dollars

According to the Conference Board, the pandemic will not deter U.S. consumers from emptying their wallets this holiday season. Here's a chart that shows their expectation (link):   A few little things make this chart work: The "More" category is placed on the left, as English-speaking countries tend to be read Left-to-Right, and it is also given the deepest green, drawing our attention. Only the "More" segments have data labels....

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Using comparison to enrich a visual story

Just found this beauty deep in my submission pile (from Howie H.): What's great about this pie chart is the story it's trying to tell. Almost half of the electorate did not vote in Texas in the 2016 Presidential election. The designer successfully draws my attention to the white sector that makes the point. There are a few problems. Showing two decimals is too much precision. The purple sector is...

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Book Review: Visualizing with Text by Richard Barth

The creative process is sometimes described in terms of diverge-converge cycles. The diverge step involves experimentation and rewards suspending disbelief, while excesses are curbed and concepts refined during the converge step. Richard Brath's just-released book Visualizing with Text is an important resource that expands our appreciation for the place of text in visual displays. Books on data visualization fall into recognizable types, of which two popular ones are the style...

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Making better pie charts if you must

I saw this chart on an NYU marketing twitter account: The graphical design is not easy on our eyes. It's just hard to read for various reasons. The headline sounds like a subject line from an email. The subheaders are long, and differ only by a single word. Even if one prefers pie charts, they can be improved by following a few guidelines. First, start the first sector at the...

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A testing mess: one chart, four numbers, four colors, three titles, wrong units, wrong data

Twitterstan wanted to vote the following infographic off the island: (The publisher's website is here but I can't find a direct link to this graphic.) The mishap is particularly galling given the controversy swirling around this year's A-Level results in the U.K. For U.S. readers, you can think of A-Levels as SAT Subject Tests, which in the U.K. are required of all university applicants, and represent the most important, if...

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What is the price for objectivity

I knew I had to remake this chart. The simple message of this chart is hidden behind layers of visual complexity. What the analyst wants readers to focus on (as discerned from the text on the right) is the red line, the seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions due to Covid-19 in Texas. My eyes kept wandering away from the line. It's the sideway data labels on the columns....

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The elusive meaning of black paintings and red blocks

Joe N, a longtime reader, tweeted about the following chart, by the People's Policy Project: This is a simple column chart containing only two numbers, far exceeded by the count of labels and gridlines. I look at charts like the lady staring at these Ad Reinhardts:   My artist friends say the black squares are not the same, if you look hard enough. Here is what I learned after one...

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