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How to tell if your graphic is underpowered?

Some time ago, this chart showed up in a NYT Magazine (it's about sex):

Nytm_circles

In this composition, the visual element (the circles) has no utility. A self-sufficiency test makes this point clear.

All the data (four numbers) are printed on the original graphic. When removed, the reader loses all ability to understand the data.

Nytm_circles_cropped

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Redo_nytm_circles_1Even when the first number is revealed, it is impossible to know the values of the others.

If one knows the second (and largest) pink circle represents 58 percent, it is still impossible to guess that the adjacent circle is 40 percent.

Even both those numbers are provided, it is still impossible to infer the rest without a calculation.

In order to understand this graphic, readers must look at the data labels.

 

 

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I made a couple of other versions for comparison.

The first uses the pie chart, which is almost readable without the data labels. 

Redo_nytm_circles_2

The second uses the bar chart, which requires only an axis.

Redo_nytm_circles_3

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

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Chris Pudney

I don't have access to the original magazine article but I interpreted the pink and blue nested circles to represent the proportions of females and males in each age group but that doesn't seem to add up...

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