line chart

42 posts
This Excel chart looks standard but gets everything wrong

The following CNBC chart (link) shows the trend of global car sales by region (or so we think). This type of chart is quite common in finance/business circles, and has the fingerprint of Excel. After examining it, I nominate it for the Hall of Shame. *** The chart has three major components vying for our attention: (1) the stacked columns, (2) the yellow line, and (3) the big red dashed...

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This chart tells you how rich is rich – if you can read it

Via twitter, John B. sent me the following YouGov chart (link) that he finds difficult to read: The title is clear enough: the higher your income, the higher you set the bar. When one then moves from the title to the chart, one gets misdirected. The horizontal axis shows pound values, so the axis naturally maps to "the higher your income". But it doesn't. Those pound values are the "cutoff"...

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Graph literacy, in a sense

Ben Jones tweeted out this chart, which has an unusual feature: What's unusual is that time runs in both directions. Usually, the rule is that time runs left to right (except, of course, in right-to-left cultures). Here, the purple area chart follows that convention while the yellow area chart inverts it. On the one hand, this is quite cute. Lines meeting in the middle. Converging. I get it. On the...

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Tennis greats at the top of their game

The following chart of world No. 1 tennis players looks pretty but the payoff of spending time to understand it isn't high enough. The light colors against the tennis net backdrop don't work as intended. The annotation is well done, and it's always neat to tug a legend inside the text. The original is found at Tableau Public (link). The topic of the analysis appears to be the ages at...

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Choosing between individuals and aggregates

Friend/reader Thomas B. alerted me to this paper that describes some of the key chart forms used by cancer researchers. It strikes me that many of the "new" charts plot granular data at the individual level. This heatmap showing gene expressions show one column per patient: This so-called swimmer plot shows one bar per patient: This spider plot shows the progression of individual patients over time. Key events are marked...

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This Wimbledon beauty will be ageless

This Financial Times chart paints the picture of the emerging trend in Wimbledon men’s tennis: the average age of players has been rising, and hits 30 years old for the first time ever in 2019. The chart works brilliantly. Let's look at the design decisions that contributed to its success. The chart contains a good amount of data and the presentation is carefully layered, with the layers nicely tied to...

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Visualizing Historical Political Party Identification in the Era of Trump

As many have noted, President Trump has shown a remarkable ability to maintain a strong base of support — about 40% of the voters — despite the myriad controversies swirling around him. Some clues about that base can be seen in the results of a fascinating survey taken recently by Pew Research Center to gauge Americans’ reaction to the Mueller investigation. Deep in the white paper released by Pew are historical numbers...

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SCMP’s fantastic infographic on Hong Kong protests

In the past month, there have been several large-scale protests in Hong Kong. The largest one featured up to two million residents taking to the streets on June 16 to oppose an extradition act that was working its way through the legislature. If the count was accurate, about 25 percent of the city’s population joined in the protest. Another large demonstration occurred on July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s...

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A chart makes an appearance in my new video

Been experimenting with short videos recently. My latest is a short explainer on why some parents are willing to spend over a million dollars to open back doors to college admissions. I even inserted a chart showing some statistics. Click here to see the video.   Also, subscribe to my channel to see future episodes of Inside the Black Box. *** Here are a couple of recent posts related to...

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Clarifying comparisons in censored cohort data: UK housing affordability

If you're pondering over the following chart for five minutes or more, don't be ashamed. I took longer than that. The chart accompanied a Financial Times article about inter-generational fairness in the U.K. To cut to the chase, a recently released study found that younger generations are spending substantially higher proportions of their incomes to pay for housing costs. The FT article is here (behind paywall). FT actually slightly modified...

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