Circle on stick, again

Monday, December 30th, 2013 - by Bella

The German newspaper “Die Welt” has drawn circle on stick. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Because: data was missing. I straightened it out.

Debt (in billion Euro).
Source: “Die Welt”, 2013–12–10, same as last time. Redesign: me.

Same shape for all values. Much better. However: I also liked the stick that was glued at the end of the circle. Or… the circle could be glued on the stick, not at the end of it. I’d like that even more. Just like William*. Since no bars are shown, it could also be logarithmic. Now all pixels belong to the differences.

The same data as dot plots. Logarithmic scale. Redesign: me, too.

There was something else I couldn’t stop thinking about: debt per city or debt per head?

Left: debt (in billion Euro), middle: debt per head, right: inhabitants.  Redesign: me, again.

* Cleveland, W. S., The Elements of Graphing Data, Murray Hill 1994.

Circle on stick

Sunday, December 15th, 2013 - by Bella

German cities have lots of debt. The German newspaper “Die Welt” says that. Have a look.

Cities with the highest debt - debt level from loans, bonds and cash credits. Source: The German paper "Die Welt"

Cities with the highest debt – debt level from loans, bonds and cash credits
Source: The German newspaper “Die Welt”, 2013–12–10 (online, in German only)

Circle means debt. Big red circle means lots of debt. Small red circle means less debt. Circle that is glued on a stick means debt, too. Orange circle that is glued on a long stick means lots of debt. Orange circle that is glued on a short stick means less debt.

Looks funny. So you take a closer look. Doing that, you begin to wonder. #1 to #4 is like this. #5 to #15 is different. Why? How long would a circle on a stick be for a 3.2? He says: Why not relatively? By resident? In relation to the trade tax?

Circle words

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 - by Bella

Today, something from the past. A graphic table from the German newspaper SZ. From the year 2005. Revenue as bar. Share as pie, for the most important product.

Biotechnoloy: dependency on one product. Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2005-06-15, page 30.
Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2005–06–15, page 30. Click to enlarge.

I like mini graphics. You can also call them sparklines, micro charts or word graphics. Really dramatic, the bars. Easy to understand. Easy to compare. Really cute, the pies. Nice to look at, but not so nice to compare. Probably too small? Probably, because you have to learn: revenue is bar, share is pie.

I’ll try it myself.

Easy to read and compare. But you have to learn: Revenue is bars, share is bar.

Easy to read and compare. But you have to learn: Revenue is bar, share is fill bar.

Bigger circles. Better to read.

Easy to read. Easy to compare. Have to learn a little. Though not so cute.

Don’t swallow the hollow

Friday, November 15th, 2013 - by Bella

Drawing the same things in the same way is good. You remember it easier. For example: Current-numbers are always filled. Forecast numbers are always hollow. Also works when it’s pretty small.

Source: DeltaMaster.

It is always better to use tricks to remember things. Filled means: already happened. Not filled means: almost there. Anything else is just confusing.

Source: Beiersdorf AG, annual report 2009.

The columns are also funny. Christmas candles. After a while, they thought so as well.

Source: Beiersdorf AG, annual report 2012.

Much better.

Train track

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 - by Bella

I said: Measuring with things that you know is good. Painting with them is also good. That’s what Otto, Marie and Gerd are doing since 1920. Have a look.

Headline: Progression of railways.
Source: Otto Neurath, Marie Neurath, Gerd Arntz, Wiener Bildstatistik (in English:
pictorial charts from Vienna), 1930.

Great. Even greater than Toby. And really old. All the chimneys beneath one another. The tracks could all start on the left. The piling is a little bit difficult as well. The time lags are very variable. Otto says: “It is easier to keep something simple in mind than to forget something perfect.” That is sometimes right. Sometimes not. Mostly, I like number and picture combined the most.


Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 - by Bella

Toby has drawn the world. As a village. Among others like that.


Funy. The village is a zebra. More black than white. Black is not always black. Black is non-white.

Toby has more funny ideas.

Auswahl Toby NG

Source: Toby NG Design, The World of 100. Idea of the village: Donella; current numbers from the village:

Queer: One hundred people are a zebra and a kangaroo, a banana, a pizza, glasses, a mac-mouse, clouds, a cigarette, a hat.

Even queerer: Gay and lesbian is at the bottom of the banana. Being hungry is a half eaten pizza. Not being able to read is a broken lens. Having no computer is a computer-mouse. Having water is a cloud. Same with having no water. Breathing in a healthy way is a cigarette. Breathing in an unhealthy way is the ash of the cigarette. Having an education is a hat.

Many people like that a lot. Toby received five awards for the design.

Completely queer: It is about one hundred people. You don’t see any of them. But it works. Why? Have an unsharped look on the zebra above. I see it like that.

Auswahl Toby NG

Only the numbers. And the headline. 70 and 30. That is 100. Therefore the village. Above all the graphic tells us: have a look at the numbers.

Queer can be good.

Better earlier on the top

Monday, September 30th, 2013 - by Bella

Time runs from left to right. Same with text. Sometimes time and text are in the way of each other. Then you rotate it. Have a look.

Source: WSJ Europe, 2013–04–26, page 32.

Funny, what do you think? 2014 first, 2013 second. First later, then earlier. Twisted instead of turned.

Bild gedreht
Source: WSJ Europe, 2013–04–26, page 32 (turned by me).

Funny, what do you think? I change the columns. And turn again.

Bild Säule
Source: WSJ Europe, 2013–04–26, page 32 (columns changed by me).

Better, what do you think? Time runs from left to right. And if not: from top to bottom.

Car crushing

Sunday, September 15th, 2013 - by Bella

I like self-confidence. But the German retail trade association HDE exaggerates. Have a look.

Wirtschaftliche Leistung im Vergleich. Quelle: HDE.
Headline: Economic achievement by comparison. Left total turnover in retailing, right total turnover in automobile industry.
Source: HDE (ed.), The German retail industry (in German: Der deutsche Einzelhandel), June 2013, page 4.

The three vintage cars worth 351 billion fit a number of times into the tower of goods worth 428 billion. Then the tower of goods would amount up to trillions. Pretty expensive for a few glasses, a pot, three buckets of paint and a frozen fish.

Headline: Economic achievement by comparison.

The mistake has always been done. I thought no one is falling for it any more. Area is drawn, height is calculated. Charts based on area size are difficult. Even if they are correct. Though those that are wrongly calculated are a bit funny. Hopefully the retail market at the cash register calculates in a different way.

The little difference

Friday, August 30th, 2013 - by Bella

Small is often difficult. Small differences as well. Especially big differences between small ones. Have a look. Here is how it works extremely bad.

Arbeitslosenquoten im August 2013 als Tortendiagramm. Quelle: Nürnberger Nachrichten, 30.08.2013, Seite 4.
Unemployment rate in August 2013. Source: the regional newspaper “Nürnberger Nachrichten”, 2013–08–30, page 4.

Because: a pie is already difficult. Because it is hard to read. Small pieces of pie are especially difficult. Because harder to read. Small pieces of pie adjacent to each other are even more difficult. Because even harder to read. What do we do instead?

Arbeitslosenquoten im August 2013 als Grafische Tabelle.
Redesign: me.

Works better. Because: we have big differences between small values. It works even better like that. Point-bars. Logarithmic.

Arbeitslosenquoten im August 2013 als Grafische Tabelle mit logarithmisch skalierten Punktbalken.
Redesign: me too.

Bronze age

Thursday, August 15th, 2013 - by Bella

He has been at the Hoover Dam. On the bridge, in front of it. There was a chart. In bronze. A real Gantt-chart. With time periods for construction phases. Casted in bronze. A chart for eternity.

It has taken ten years to build the bridge. The construction the longest. The design has taken long, too. Nice chart.

Gantt charts are good for simultaneous things. Projects, for example. Like this one. Simple and good. Also on paper or with pixel.

Circle of life

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 - by Bella

At Xing, time is a balloon. The longer your stay the more air is coming in. If you didn’t stay that long, the same air is coming in. There is the same amount of air for two months, thirteen months and two years.

Berufserfahrung im Xing-Profil
Source:, Headline: professional experience, query on July 23rd, 2013.

Watch the botch with Excel 2013

Monday, July 15th, 2013 - by Bella

With the last version he was swearing. Now it’s my turn with the new version. Excel 2013 has a serious failure. As all Excels before. In the chart assistant. That one cuts the feet of columns and bars. Automatically. If values lie close together. That is against my law of proportions.

Achsenoptionen in Microsoft Excel 2013

Therefore: Have an exact look. Adjust the axis correctly. By no means automatically.

Thumb rules for fools

Sunday, June 30th, 2013 - by Bella

Symbols for worse. I said that once. Everybody understands that. Have a look.

Source: The German magazine „Auto, Motor und Sport“, Nr. 14/2013, page 5.
Source: The German magazine „Auto, Motor und Sport“, Nr. 14/2013, page 5.

Thumbs up is good. Thumbs down is bad. Especially, if you are a gladiator. Then it can be understood.

To be honest, I am glad to have paws. Top left: drawn own left hand. Thumb slanted down three quarter. Gout? Three quarter good? Half good?

Top middle: drawn own right hand, seven eighth straight. Gout as well? Almost completely good?

Top right: left elbow on the table, shoulder to the left, hand down, luxate arm. Watch out for a slipped disk!

Waste of place

Saturday, June 15th, 2013 - by Bella

The German magazine “Focus” has counted: How many small children live in cities. How many kindergarten places are there. How many children do need a kindergarten place. How many do not have one. Or how many would have one.

52 deutsche Städte im Kita-Check. Quelle: Focus 23/2013, Seite 33.
Source: Focus 23/2013, page 33, and

I like a graphical table. But not like that. Too much zebra. Too much colour. Too much jumping for your eyes: look to the right, remember the length of the red, look to the left, subtract green from red, remember it, go to the next row, start from the beginning, remember it and compare it. Too difficult? I think so too.

This is better: places minus children, divided by children.

Redesign: me.
Redesign: me.

Short makes long

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 - by Bella

Poor tyres brake poorly. And need more fuel. Says the ADAC, the German motoring club. And has drawn a picture. With car and road markings. So you can see the differences in braking. Good idea. Measured with things you know.

Quelle: ADAC Motorwelt 4/2013, Seite 42.
Source: magazine from the ADAC 4/2013, page 42.

Oops! Something funny here. Look out of the window. Pretty short, such a car. Pretty long, such a line. How long, says the minister of transport:

On motorways 6 meters line and 12 meters gap.
Otherwise 4 meters line and 8 meters gap.
Within the city 3 meters line and 6 meters gap.

The driver in the graphic drives 80 kilometers per hour. So he better be driving on a country road. For a difference in braking distance of 3 meters the graphic draws about 5 lines and 5 gaps. 5 x 4 plus 5 x 8 is 60 meters.

To measure with things you know is good. But then you have to draw with it.