Stacked charts should show a meaningful total


The Raconteur supplement in today’s Times newspaper contains another example of a bad practice I highlighted in this post.  The designer of the infographic has committed the cardinal sin of stacking together items that don’t make a meaningful total, simply in order to make a chart that has a more visually attractive shape.

The bar totals (ranging from about 22% to 210%) are completely meaningless.


Instead, the chart should show bars for each of the 6 statements listed, divided into the percentages for each type of response (strongly agree, somewhat agree etc).  This would create bars that each add up to 100%, enabling comparison of the distribution of responses by question.

The shape of the chart may be less engaging than the published version, but it would have the merit of some analytical value.








Leave a Reply