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What is the most embarrassing charting mistake you made? [weekend poll]

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This week’s poll is very simple.

What is the the most embarrassing charting miskate your made?

For me it has to be that one time when I made a sports dashboard using excel. I have adjusted the axis scale of a bar chart so that my favorite cricket player (Sachin Tendulkar, who else?)’s records are emphasized. In a matter of minutes I have received several comments from all over world pointing out the mistake. Even though, the intention was to highlight the achievements of master blaster, the axis adjustment was obviously a mistake.

Charting Mistake - Adjust axis scaling on bar charts to start at a non-zero value

Soon I have realized the mistake and corrected it in a follow up post where I proposed alternative visualizations for test cricket statistics. Heck, we even had a poll where I asked you to tell if “is it ok to have axis of bar charts start at non-zero value“.

What about you? What is your most embarrassing charting moment?

Share with us using comments, because we learn better from our mistakes.

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7 Responses to “What is the most embarrassing charting mistake you made? [weekend poll]”

  1. Aires says:

    O PHD readers,
    I am heartily sorry for having worked in a marketing consulting company,
    and I detest all my 3D bar charts
    and all my 3D pie charts
    because I dread the loss of significance
    and the pains of showing no information at all,
    but most of all because they offend the intelligence of my audience, o readers,
    Who are all good and deserving of nice information.
    I firmly resolve with the help of Chandoo's great website
    to confess my sins, to keep developing meaningful charts,
    and to amend my life.
    Amen. 😉

  2. Eric Lind says:

    @ Chandoo: The English are probably just upset that they can't win the Championship for decades on end. =)

    @ Aires: Haha!

  3. Shuchi says:

    Before I discovered PHD and PTS blog some time last year, I specialized in creating horrendous charts. Pie charts with a zillion segments, bars with 3D effect, prettified backgrounds...you get the drift.

    It was a jaw-dropping moment when I realized how much I was doing wrong.

    The irony is, nobody who saw those charts at my workplace realized they were bad. People Above like charts with all the needless misleading jazz.

  4. Hui... says:

    Shuchi
    Don't forget that the chart is only one picture in a story.
    The real story are the numbers behind.
    A decent boss will see through all the gloss and bling and see the real story regardless of how good or bad a chart may be.

  5. Rishil says:

    If your work involves lots of planning and scheduling complex projects, i just came across a brilliant and simple project management and planning web-based application, ideal for project managers. Its so user friemdly and simple that that anyone who ever worked on excel can operate on the application. The site also has a one minute tutorial briefing the range of features offered by the application. Recently released its beta version worth having a look..

    (http://askwiki.blogspot.com/2009/12/best-tool-for-project-planning.html )

  6. […] Related: What is the most embarrassing charting mistake you made? […]

  7. G McLaughlin says:

    Using a font color so light (unfortunately, as with the chart examples in your last tips email about 5 simple rules for making awesome charts) that readers can not read the text. Low contrast fonts are almost impossible to read if you are, for example, color blind. (note that about 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are color blind to some degree)

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