Another mis-scaled bar chart


Here is another mis-scaled bar chart published in a Raconteur infographic called “The business case for transformation”.



Scores for responses to the question: “Which of the following changes do you think could have the biggest impact on your organisation’s profitability?” are sorted highest to lowest.   The bars representing each response bear no relation to the actual number, except that the top of the top-most bar is roughly three times the length of the top of the bottom-most bar if we ignore the small grey area at the start of each bar.  Instead, the incremental change in bar length has been made equal to produce a straight diagonal line, presumably to improve the visual appeal of the graph at the expense of distorting its message.

I re-plotted the data points in Excel, superimposing the actual values in blue on top of the values plotted in the original graph in orange.

Profitability - excel


The data values for the second to the eighth bar are all overstated in the infographic, by a minimum of 10% and a maximum of a whopping 32%!

I stand by the maxim of infographicist Alberto Cairo in his book “The Functional Art”: “…graphics should not simplify messages.  They should clarify them.”

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