Less is more, more is more

Always ask yourself: “what can I remove from this chart”? Remove Excel defaults, remove grid lines, make the chart smaller, use soft colors, remove irrelevant labels, remove the legend (by directly labeling series), remove series that you don’t really need, remove frames, remove decimal places, remove visual fluff. Then ask yourself: “what can I add … Read more

Letter to the Director-General of Eurostat

Dear Mr. Hervé Carré I’ve been browsing through some of the Eurostat publications and I thought you would appreciate some constructive feedback, since it is your job to ensure that governments, businesses, media and the general public do have access in a timely manner to reliable and objective data. I’m starting with some general findings, … Read more

Design principles for better charts: relevance

The relevance principle means that every variation should carry a meaning, derived from data variation, not from design variation. If it doesn’t, it can be confusing or misleading. Suppose chart A displays population density by country. “Vary colors by point” is an option in Excel, but why should you use it? This is a design … Read more

Design principles for better charts: simplicity

How to create better charts? Search the web and you’ll find many specific advices, not always backed up by scientific evidence (can there be any?). Tufte’s advices are great for us, rational, positivist members of the human race, but what about those emotional poor fellows for whom a minimalistic chart is just a boring chart? … Read more

The "what-would-Tufte-say" syndrome

An alarming level of the “what-would-Tufte-say” syndrome can be found in this post and some of its comments discussing a New York Times’s infographic. This syndrome has some recognizable features like the extensive use of “chart junk”, “lie factor” or other terms and expressions coined by Tufte that reveal a somewhat misunderstanding or abusive usage … Read more

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