Trying too hard
Small multiples re-imagineered

Two books

Nathan from FlowingData announces a competition to win Tufte's classic book on visual representation of data.   There are still a few days left to participate.  While his more recent books start getting repetitive, he still has published one of the most accessible books on this topic.

I also had the pleasure of reading Naomi Robbins' Creating More Effective Graphs.  She adopts a cookbook format providing hints on graphs in one, two and more dimensions, scales, visual clarity and so on.  Since she has already read Cleveland, Tufte, etc., she manages to put all that learning inside on cover.  The page design - with half of every page blank - is refreshingly easy on the eyes.  Inclusion of examples is generous. 

Lets review her point of view of some of the topics we discuss frequently on Junk Charts:

Starting axis at zero: she thinks "all bar charts must include zero.  However, the answer is not as clear for line charts or other charts for which we judge positions along a common scale." (p.240)

Jittering: she does not provide a clear guideline but gave an example of a strip chart with jittered dots, commenting that "it gives a much better indication of the distributions than would a plot without jittering" (p.85) so I infer that she's generally in favor.

Parallel coordinates plot / profile plot: she provides an example of such a plot on p.141 and describes how to read such a plot.  Again, I infer she's in favor.


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Most plots, except the 3-D pie chart, and plotting features are useful in some situations. Some should be a last resort. It is always worthwhile to get a second opinion, to see if someone else can understand your graphs.

Your link to Naomi Robbins book doesn't work.


Link fixed. Thanks.

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