Blowing the whistle at bubble charts
Cat and dog food, for thought

Italy burning, by poor timing

Here's a chart from one of the Italian dailies I picked up in Rome last August . It apparently plots the number of hectares of farmland that was burnt during various fires over time.


While the chart is clean and pleasing to the eye, it has a malformed time axis. In the side-by-side comparison shown below, you can see how the evenly-spaced time axis completely distorts the cadence of the data.


In fact, the data should be put into a bar chart, rather than a line chart. Lines are used primarily to denote trends, and sometimes to compare profiles. Neither of these cases apply here.


 The bar chart requires proper spacing too to present the years in which no hectares were burnt by fires.



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Agreed. Bar charts with proper spacing add information about frequency. After the Newtown shootings, I did this chart showing the twelve deadliest shootings and this one with 62 shootings for the last 30 years because I could not find them. Everything had equal spacing, implied or explicit, but the discussion was about frequency.

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