It's pretty hard to decree hard-and-fast rules for graphical design; every rule seems to admit its exception. This reinforces Tufte's contribution as he has successfully organized the rules in his collection of books.
Dustin J sent in this chart from the Economist. Its first impression is ugly and overly complex.
Steven Few says not to use stacked bar charts because you cannot compare individual values very easily and as a rule I avoid stacked bars with more than six or seven divisions. What do you think of this stacked bar--I think it is quite effective in telling the story.
On this blog, I have also re-done some stacked bar charts but this one is truly an exception to the rule. The reason why this one works is that it's not about
the individual components, it's showing that the US consumes more than
all those countries combined.
If only it has the proper caption! The Economist is uncharacteristically detached here: "Petrol consumption per day", "Litres bn, 2003". How about "Goliath v. Davids"? "US v. the World"? "Dream Team USA"?
It'd help if they tone down the colors; also, by simply annotating the total litres for the US and the total for the other countries, they would have made a clearer point without using gridlines. But these are minor glitches in an otherwise effective chart.
Source: Economist, July 2007.