Behind bars

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

In many charts you see changing backgrounds, colors, contrasts. They should separate what is side-by-side. But they connect what is separated. The eye looks out for meaning.

The Wall Street Journal wants to point out: Which quarters are a year. This works and is stylish. But: It connects 2006 with 2008 and 2010. And 2007 with 2009.

Quarterly change in output per hour at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. - Source: Wall Street Journal, 2010-05-07, page 9.
Source: Wall Street Journal, 2010–05–07, page 9.

The WAMS doesn´t point out anything. Background bars as stripes are CI. Because: Everything gets striped. Sometimes that replaces a scale. In the picture on the right every stripe is five wide. Bars and stripes build checks. That is not stylish. In other pictures every stripe is CI. They unite what does not belong together.

The rise of renewable energy sources. - Source: Welt am Sonntag,2010-02-21, page 25.
Source: Welt am Sonntag,2010–02–21, page 25. From left to right: Compensation for electricity fed into the grid for renewable energy in Bn Euro, Compensation for electricity fed into the grid for solar electricity in Cent/KWh, Electricity Generation 2009 in Terawatt hours (TWh)

Diagrams and CI don´t get along well.

Yesterday is left

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Time only runs top down in sandglasses. But not in charts. There, time is from left to right. Because it’s like that. Take a chart with a horizontal x-axis and a vertical y-axis. The independent variable should always be on the x-axis. Then everybody knows: The dependent variable is on the y-axis. That’s helpful. Like most other conventions, too.

In the newspaper WAMS, the time is vertical. Not too bad. But also not very nice.

A billion dollar business with the Mullahs. Title: 26 percent minus. The German export to the Iran in billions of Euro, each January to July
Source: Welt am Sonntag, Nr. 40, 04/10/2009, p. 36. Title: 26 percent minus. The German export to the Iran in billions of Euro, January to July for each year