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John S,

This is a case where the use of color might be helpful. I realize the crosses are the European area and the dots are the U.S., but it's still somewhat difficult to make out. Maybe make one line blue and the other red?


I have a love-hate relationship with colors. I like sparing use to make specific points; this particular case could count as that.

That said, it is easy to abuse colors. Also, while we still have lots of grayscale printers and copiers in use, I tend to err on the safe side.

And diverging even more... I like the feature in PowerPoint where you can preview what a slide looks like in grayscale. I love this feature although I don't make use of it much. I don't know why.

Andrew Gelman

I agree on the colors. Also I'd alter both axes:

x-axis: Just put labels at 1995, 2000, 2005. This gives a better perspective on the time period. (It would be even better to go back another 10 yrs or so.)

y-axis: Again, no need to label all those tick marks. I'd just label 0, 2%, 4%.

Also, I'd extend the y-axis just a bit below zero (with a dotted line at the reference line of 0). I say this because GDP growth can be negative. The "hard boundary" at 0 in the graph gives the implicit visual impression that y can only be positive.

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