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What do we think of the "packed" bar chart?

The art of contaminating data


This is one of those innocent-looking charts that could have been a poster child for artistic embellishment. The straightforward time-series chart is deemed too boring. The designer shows admirable constraint in inserting “information-free” content, such as the dense gridlines (graph paper) and the 3D effect (ticker).

Seem harmless but not really.

Here I turn off the color.


After the 3D effect is applied, the reader no longer knows whether to look at the top or bottom edge of the ticker.

This view makes this point even clearer.


The art contaminates the data.


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Nathan Gilliatt

To make things worse: visually, the upper edge is more prominent, but if you view the 3D effect as projecting the chart above the page in space, the lower edge actually represents the data. Imagine rotating the page until you're looking straight down the edge if the point's not obvious.

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