Graphics Best Practices
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  • graphics are a communication tool, not ornamental organize and communicate key informationIf you use them effectively, you’ll tell the story you want to tell to your audience If you use them ineffectively, you could distract actually distract from the data
  • Can’t assume they have the same level of knowledge, interest, or commitment as youGraphics should make it easier for the audience to understand and take interest in the data or information
  • eyes are drawn to big and bold and brightnon-linear: bounce around, can't assumethe viewer will look through everything in orderProvide handholds but do include all the data for curious/nit picky audience members
  • stick w/established symbols and conventionsrepetition: look for patterns we've learned maps: symbols consistent; capitol cities star, cities bold, lakes and rivers blue, interstates red
  • Think about how
  • Huge amounts of data, limited amount of spacePaper is two-dimensional, so
  • “after this, therefore because of this”Correlation not causationFalse causationCoincidental causation
  • Mean – arithmetic mean, standard average – the sum of all measurements divided by the number of observations in the datasetMedian – middle value, half the population is above and half is belowMode – most likely value
  • Median income ~$50kMode $15k-$20k
  • Careful with Pie charts: Too hard to follow
  • More acceptable even with a lot of categories. Because color is used well, labeled. They start with the largest value and go around clockwise. But the major take away message will be that TV is big.
  • Too hard to interpret, label all the values. (Radial as treemap)
  • They make your reader do extra work, and they cant focus on the trends when eyes dart back and forth
  • Don’t use legend if you are plotting the same values
  • Here, there are multiple labels, so a simple legend is good.
  • Many Errors here:Don’t use 3-dUse ascending colorsDon’t need graphicDon’t need decimal
  • Use of 3-d Do we need both dimensions?
  • Use color to distinguish time; use recognizable colors if they apply
  • In this case color shows geography
  • Use tick marks , minimize grid lines, but horizontal ones are helpful. Most helpful for lines (to show trends)
  • Numbering when it isnt too much data.
  • Use shading bars
  • Use shading bars. Also don’t be afraid to grey out a lot of things.
  • Using trend lines

Graphics Best Practices Graphics Best Practices Presentation Transcript

  • Lunch and LearnGraphics Best PracticesAnna Jursik, Lester Shen, and Jenny Edwards, March 13, 2013
  • Lunch and Learn: Graphics Best PracticesGeneral Principles
  • Consider the audiencePage 3
  • Establish hierarchyPage 4
  • Stick with established patternsPage 5
  • Minimize “chartjunk” Minimize “chartjunk”Page 6
  • What is the “smallest effective difference”? Find the smallest effective differencePage 7
  • Account for a multivariate worldPage 8
  • Post hoc ergo propter hocPage 9 Courtesy of Michael Blasnik
  • Lunch and Learn: Graphics Best PracticesDisplaying Numbers
  • Averages + Mean + Median + ModePage 11
  • AveragesPage 12
  • AveragesPage 13
  • AveragesPage 14
  • SignificancePage 15
  • SignificancePage 16
  • Consistent ScalesPage 17
  • Consistent ScalesPage 18
  • Consistent ScalesPage 19
  • Reading in City Schools – 2nd GradePage 20
  • Full axisPage 21
  • Error barsPage 22
  • Error barsPage 23
  • Show Me the DataPage 24
  • Show Me the DataPage 25
  • Chart Types, Color,and Formatting
  • What type of chart to use? What Type of Chart to Use? + Line Chart: Show TrendsPage 27
  • What type of chart to use? What Type of Chart to Use? + Column or Bar: Discrete Repeating UnitsPage 28
  • What type of chart to use? What Type of Chart to Use? + Pie Chart: Emphasize A single value, or extremes (Large or Small Values)Page 29
  • Page 30
  • Page 31
  • Page 32
  • Better choice: Radial TreemapPage 33
  • Legends are overusedPage 34
  • Page 35
  • 200 Peak at 172 Days 180 Condos 160 140 120 100 80 60 Single Family 40 20 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13Page 36
  • Page 37
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  • Use legends if space is tight Make sure legend order reads in the same order as data, and use color to assistPage 41
  • General Color and Format Rules: Don’t overuse: maintain smallest effective difference Use color and formatting to group similar types, to show scale or trends Reserve different formatting dimensions to highlight what you care aboutPage 42
  • Page 43
  • US Injuries + Fatalities per Billion Passenger-Miles (2002-2004)Page 44
  • Page 45
  • Portland’s Transportation Carbon FootprintPage 46
  • Page 47
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  • 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 1 2 3 4Page 50
  • Page 51
  • Color-Blind ConsiderationsPage 52
  • Use tick marks when you want to show discrete measurementsPage 53
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  • Create a logical orderPage 57
  • Page 58