Course Announcement: Data Visualization Workshop
Light entertainment on snow day: making light of the meal

Inverting the axis for goodness sake

Last week, Wall Street Journal inverted the vertical axis in one of their charts. The last time someone did this, a huge uproar ensued. (The Florida gun deaths chart discussed here.) This time, the act appeared to have caused barely a ruffle. Perhaps it's because the designer placed a text box on the chart to alert us that the axis is inverted. (See the original on the left.)


When I saw the chart, I tweeted that there is a better way to deal with this. Instead of inverting the axis, one can invert the currency ratio, as shown on the right. Each hryvnia is worth progressively fewer U.S. cents over the last two years. It is clear that the hryvnia is weakening, without having to annotate this.

(PS. I pulled a weekly dataset so the numbers don't completely match up for the Wednesday in question. Also, the steepness of the curve is due to the ratio inversion.)


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Very informative article)


I like the example, however I would have liked your version a lot more if you would not have cut off the axis.
It makes the weakening appear even stronger than it is in reality, a tool usually used to dramatise data instead of clarify it. The weakening was 'just' about 60-70% not the 90+% it appears from your chart ( just looking at the chart, not the figures)
I enjoy your blog a lot however! Cheers

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