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Jon Peltier

I made some alternative charts of this data and have posted them here:

http://peltiertech.com/Excel/Commentary/PerCapitaEarmarks.html

Zuil Serip

I like Jon's straight-forward treatment of the data much better!

A couple of points, though. I think logarithmic axis need to be used with great care - particularly in a case like this. I would not use it here because it significantly distorts the visual representation of the data and is very for the viewer to overlook the axis scale. (In this sense I think log scales are analogous to not starting the vertical axis at zero. The data is not incorrect, but is visually misleading).

I might also consider adding a subtle line across all bars indicating the
average earmarks per capita across the entire country. This would let you figure out at a glance who's above or below the average and by roughly how much.

By the way, I would also remove the vertical axis and grid lines altogether. Since you have value labels on your bars, they are unnecessary clutter.

The last point, of course, is the terrible reality that a good chart like Jon's might well get overlooked by your average overloaded news consumer, while something less traditional like what was presented here gets people to notice and talk about it... Can someone think of an approach that would be both attention grabbing AND clear?

Jon Peltier

In a dot plot or XY plot, I have no compunction about the use of log axes, as long as the scales are well marked. I didn't use axis titles, to save a few minutes of a busy day. If I had, I'd have mentioned the scale in the axis title. I agree that in a bar or column chart, the log axis is perhaps misplaced, especially since there's no zero on a log scale.

The charts would not suffer from the loss of gridlines and value axis. Adding an average per capita line would have improved the charts.

Perhaps I could have made my charts more eye-catching with lots of colors, or 3D effects, or clip art of leggy models. But I guess I'm too dull to have thought of these things.

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