All articles with 'charting principles' Tag

Correlation vs. Causation [Charting Chatter]

Published on Aug 3, 2016 in Charts and Graphs
Correlation vs. Causation [Charting Chatter]

Here is a trap that is easy to fall in to. Confusing correlation as causation. As analysts, it is our job to see the data as it is rather than imply causation that doesn’t exist.

Let’s sample a chart, recently featured in Economist’s graphic detail under the title Measuring well-being.

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Don’t make your charts heavier than they should be – The weight of the world chart [case study]

Published on Jan 13, 2016 in Charts and Graphs
Don’t make your charts heavier than they should be – The weight of the world chart [case study]

Here is an interesting chart from Economist, ironically titled The weight of the worldCan you tell what is wrong with it?

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CP049: Don’t do data dumps!!!

Published on Nov 19, 2015 in Chandoo.org Podcast Sessions, Charts and Graphs
CP049: Don’t do data dumps!!!

In the 49th session of Chandoo.org podcast, let’s talk about data dumps!

What is in this session?

In this podcast,

  • What is a data dump
  • Examples of data dump
  • Why we dump
  • Ways to avoid data dumps
    • Go for information dumps
    • Sort the dump
    • Filter the dump
    • Give a table
  • Resources for you
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How countries spend their money – chart alternatives

Published on Sep 22, 2015 in Charts and Graphs

Econimist’s daily chart is a one of my daily data porn stops. They take interesting data sets and visualize in compelling ways. While the daily chart page is insightful, sometimes they make poor charting choices. For example, this recent chart visualizing how countries spend their money uses a variation of notorious bubble chart. Click on the chart to enlarge.

20150912_woc650_1

What is wrong with this chart?

Bubble charts force us to measure and compare areas of circles. Unless you have a measuring tape somehow embedded in your eyes and you are a walking human scientific calculator, you would find this task impossible.

So when you look at the chart and want to find out what percentage Japanese spend on restaurants or how much Americans pay for housing, your guesses will have large error margins.

Not only bubble charts are difficult to read, they are very hard to align. So when you have a bunch of bubbles, no matter how hard you try, your chart looks clumsy (see how the Russian food bubble eats in to Mexico’s bubble, as if it is too hungry 😉 )

Let’s check out a few alternatives to this chart. Read on…

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Cropped chart: when some values are too big to fit

Published on Sep 9, 2015 in Charts and Graphs
Cropped chart: when some values are too big to fit

We know that column charts are excellent for presenting information. But what if some of the columns are too tall and hijacking the rest. In a previous article, we discussed few of the approaches. Today let’s learn how to build a cropped chart (broken y-axis chart) using Excel, something like above.

Looks interesting? Read on.

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Give descriptive titles to your charts for best results

Published on Aug 19, 2015 in Charts and Graphs
Give descriptive titles to your charts for best results

Here is a simple & effective tip on charting.

Give your charts descriptive & bold titles.

How to set up title that are smart & descriptive?

Simple, follow below steps.

  1. Create the title you want in a cell
  2. Select the chart title
  3. Go to formula bar, press = and point to the cell with title
  4. Press enter.
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Make bar charts in original order of data for improved readability [charting tip]

Published on Aug 10, 2015 in Charts and Graphs
Make bar charts in original order of data for improved readability [charting tip]

To make friends in a new town hit the bars – Old saying.
To make sense of a new data-set, make bar charts – New saying.

Bar charts (or column charts if you like your data straight up) are vital in data analysis. They are easy to make. But one problem. By default, a bar chart show the original data in reverse order.

See the above example.

Unfortunately, we humans read from top to bottom, not the other way around.

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Use shapes to enhance your Excel charts [tip]

Published on Aug 8, 2015 in Charts and Graphs
Use shapes to enhance your Excel charts [tip]

Here is a simple way to enhance your Excel charts – use shapes & pictures in your charts.

We will learn how to create something like above.

Looks interesting? Read on…

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CP041: 6 charts you’ll see in hell – v2.0

Published on Aug 6, 2015 in Chandoo.org Podcast Sessions, Charts and Graphs
CP041: 6 charts you’ll see in hell – v2.0

In the 41st session of Chandoo.org podcast, Let’s take a trip to data hell and meet 6 ugly, clumsy, confusing charts. I am revisiting a classic Chandoo.org article – 6 Charts you will see in hell.

What is in this session?

In this podcast,

  • Quick announcement about Awesome August
  • 6 charts you should avoid
  • 3D charts
  • Pie / donut charts with too many slices
  • Too much data
  • Over formatting
  • Complex charts
  • Charts that don’t tell a story
  • Conclusions
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Shading an area chart with different colors for up & down movements [case study]

Published on Jul 29, 2015 in Charts and Graphs
Shading an area chart with different colors for up & down movements [case study]

We all know that area charts are great for understanding how a list of values have changed over time. Today, let’s learn how to create an area chart that shows different colors for upward & downward movements.

The inspiration for this came from a recent chart published in Wall Street Journal about Chinese stock markets.

We will try to create a similar chart using Excel. We are going to create the above chart in Excel.

Looks interesting? Read on…

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CP038: Data to Ink Ratio – What is it, How to optimize it, Techniques & Discussion

Published on Jul 9, 2015 in Chandoo.org Podcast Sessions, Charts and Graphs
CP038: Data to Ink Ratio – What is it, How to optimize it, Techniques & Discussion

In the 38th session of Chandoo.org podcast, Let’s optimize data to ink ratio of your charts.

What is in this session?

In this podcast,

  • Announcements
  • What is Data to Ink Ratio?
  • Obvious ways to optimize Data to Ink Ratio
  • More ways to optimize Data to Ink ratio
  • Highlighting what is important
  • Conclusions
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Changing stubborn opinions with visualizations [case study]

Published on May 29, 2015 in Charts and Graphs
Changing stubborn opinions with visualizations [case study]

We, analysts take pride in the fact that we tell stories. But what if you have a boss, client or colleague who wouldn’t buy the story?

This is a problem we face often. Let’s say your boss has stubborn opinion about something, like more advertising leads to more sales. You know the data doesn’t support this theory. But how do you change your boss’ mind?

Here is an interesting way, showcased in NY Times recently.

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CP032: Rules for making legendary column charts

Published on Apr 2, 2015 in Chandoo.org Podcast Sessions, Charts and Graphs
CP032: Rules for making legendary column charts

In the 32nd session of Chandoo.org podcast, let’s make legendary column charts.

What is in this session?

Column charts are everywhere. As analysts, we are expected to create flawless, strikingly beautiful & insightful column charts all the time. Do you know the simple rules that can help you create legendary column charts?

That is our topic for this podcast session.

In this podcast, you will learn

  • Few personal announcements
  • Rule 0: Start at zero
  • Rule 1: Sort the chart
  • Rule 2: Slap a title on it
  • Rule 3: Axis + grid-lines vs. Lables
  • Rule 4: Moderate formatting
  • Conclusions
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CP029: Impress your boss with Excel charts – 6 step road map for you

Published on Feb 5, 2015 in Chandoo.org Podcast Sessions, Charts and Graphs
CP029: Impress your boss with Excel charts – 6 step road map for you

In the 29th session of Chandoo.org podcast, let’s impress the boss with Excel charts.

What is in this session?

Many Excel charts live a short life. They spawn in an ambitious analyst’s spreadsheet. They go to boss with literally flying colors. The boss frowns, they disappear in to recycle bin.

Don’t curse your Excel charts with short life span.

Here is a 6 step road map to help you create awesome Excel charts, everytime.

That is our topic for this podcast session.

In this podcast, you will learn

  • Quick announcements about 50 ways & Einstein
  • 6 step road map for charting success
  • ONE: Dig your data
  • TWO: Validate insights
  • THREE: Pick charts that go well
  • FOUR: Add title & message
  • FIVE: Remove clutter
  • SIX: Prompt action
  • A real life example with road map in action
  • Resources for creating awesome charts
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A better chart to visualize “Best places to live” – Top 100 cities comparison Excel chart

Recently, I saw this chart on Economist website.

It is trying to depict how various cities rank on livability index and how they compare to previous ranking (2014 vs 2009).

Best cities to live - Chart from Economist.com

As you can see, this chart is not the best way to visualize “Best places to live”.

Few reasons why,

  • The segregated views (blue, gray & red) make it hard to look for a specific city or region
  • The zig-zag lines look good, but incredibly hard to understand % changes (or absolute changes)
  • Labels are all over the place, thus making data interpretation hard.
  • Some points have no labels (or ambiguous labels) leading to further confusion.

After examining the chart long & hard, I got thinking.

Its no fun criticizing someones work. Creating a better chart from this data, now thats awesome.

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