choosing scale for a graph

The scale for a graph axis can have significant impact on how an audience interprets a message and is an important part of optimising data visualisation.

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What-happen-in-the-internet-per-minute-300dpi

This graph entitled “What happens online in 60 seconds” was first published in November 2014 and has been widely redistributed on the internet. It is yet another example of an infographic designer misusing a statistical visualisation format so that it fails to communicate quantitative information accurately.

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Line judgements

The aspect ratio we choose for our graph has a significant effect on the perception of the data within it.

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Incorrect scaling

An infographic in the Raconteur supplement to the Times published on 11 November 2014 illustrates one of the classic pitfalls to avoid in plotting time series with incomplete data sets.

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Europe average sale

A management information dashboard is an interactive device to enable the monitoring and comparison of performance.

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TrendA

The most important application of colour in visualization is to indicate different categories.

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pie

A number of visualization techniques invite the reader to use angle judgments in order to decode the data.  The most common example of this is the pie chart.

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Weber's Law 2

In 1834, the psychophysicist E. H. Weber formulated one of the most fundamental insights into human perception, known as Weber’s Law.

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Trend chart chooser

Having defined and explained the fundamental dimensions of MI, we can develop a chart chooser for each of the seven categories.

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US Map

In a last month, we looked at the phenomenon called “pre-attentive processing”, an automatic parallel process within the brain that enables certain visual features to be recognised in less than 0.1 seconds.

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Alignment

I’ve previously stated the rule that numbers within tables should always be right aligned. There are a few extensions to this rule that are worthy of mention.

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justified

I have recently been working with a client organisation which usually presented values in data tables centred within the columns.

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Smoothed line chart

About 18 months ago, a large business in the FTSE 250 asked us to give constructive feedback on an executive dashboard that their IT project staff had created using tools from the Cognos suite.

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Developed, Developing and Emerging graphic

Look at the first picture in this article.  Does something pop out at you that you really can’t miss?

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Table1

This post concerns tabular data rather than graphs. The design of a table is at least as important as the design of a graph, and in many ways there is a lot more that one can get wrong in a badly designed table.

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t7

A single trend is a trend chart that shows a single unit and a single item. The chart is typically used in visualizing MI to compare actual and forecast performance against budget, target or prior year.

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ChartChooser

Several generic classifications of graph types exist which are designed to assist us in choosing the appropriate chart for portraying the message in our data.

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