Charts for ordering and ranking data points

The drunken speedometer: the most dangerous chart alive

I have a soft spot for bad and seemingly hopeless charts and graphs. All they deserve a second chance, so I try to help them out of the gutter. The other day, I was roaming the dirty alleys of El Dorado Hills (don't ask) when I saw it. The speedometer. Few charts are strong enough to endure so much rejection, and the [...]

By | January 17th, 2017|08 Order and ranking|5 Comments

Bullet charts: an easy way to make them in Excel [Data at Work series]

(All the Excel charts in my book are available for download, but I promised to write tutorials for a few of them. This is the first one.) Name: Bullet charts What it is used for: to display key performance indicators. Use them to replace speedometers if you want a more compact visual that can be stacked to better compare KPI. Also, speedometers [...]

By | June 16th, 2016|08 Order and ranking, Tutorials|5 Comments

Why I don’t like bar charts

Pies charts are fun to use, but it's almost impossible for grown-ups to find a good reason for using them at work. So your first, safe-for-work choice is a bar chart. The boring bar chart. I don't like bar charts. There, I said it. This is a little rant about bar charts, but also about the Eurostat. One of my [...]

By | September 17th, 2013|08 Order and ranking, Chart Types|8 Comments

Making Excel maps without VBA

If you want to make a choropleth/thematic map in Excel without programming perhaps conditional formatting is all you need. Here is how to do it: Select a few hundred columns and rows; Set width and height to 3 (more or less, depending on the resolutions you want); Set font size to 1; Place a map file over those cells and [...]

By | May 6th, 2013|08 Order and ranking, Chart Types|6 Comments

Bamboo charts: People at risk of poverty or social exclusion

Here is the percentage of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the European Union and a few other countries: We are going to resist the urge to identify them and use our preconceptions against them. Let's dig deeper instead. Some groups are more exposed to the risk of poverty. Let's see what happens when we split the [...]

By | July 16th, 2012|08 Order and ranking, Chart Types|11 Comments

Making maps in Excel: cross-stitching edition

There are several objects in Excel you can make a map with. If you want to use shapes, you can follow my tutorial. You can also use a scatter plot. The map above uses cells and conditional formatting. So, here is how to do it (this example used population data): Get a table from the US Census Bureau with latitude, longitude and [...]

By | December 13th, 2011|08 Order and ranking, Chart Types|6 Comments

Just Another Stupid Bar Chart

Human creativity is virtually limitless. But: You don't vary color by data point. You don't force the eyes to a pendular movement if you can avoid it. You don't use a legend when you can use axis labels. You can't have a residual category that large. Bloggers don't seem to learn, even with a good teacher. (Bar chart published in the [...]

By | June 4th, 2009|08 Order and ranking, Design|Comments Off on Just Another Stupid Bar Chart

Focus + Context (a Bar Chart Is Not a Skyscraper)

Textures. 3D. Pie charts. Primary colors. Trends hidden behind labels. Backgrounds. Pie charts again. Clear signs of a bad chart, right? Right. It is so easy to spot a badly designed chart that you can use a computer to do it. Don't waste your time. Let's stop discussing the obviously wrong and start discussing the useless right. Like this chart [...]

By | February 10th, 2009|08 Order and ranking, Chart Types|21 Comments

Chart redesign: California majority party by county

Nathan asks us Can You Improve this Mediocre Statistical Graphic? Since there are only two series (two parties) with a obvious mirror effect, I would say it doesn't make sense (from a chart economy point of view) to display both series. And since the 50% mark is relevant in election results, why shouldn't we just look at the trend of [...]

By | July 18th, 2008|08 Order and ranking, Chart Types|1 Comment