Numbers’ craze for youth?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Oh, ZEIT. I didn´t mean that. My scribbled design was born out of necessity. Yours is intentional.

The Drama of apprenticeship: The amount of apprenticeship training positions diminishes; Variance to the previous year. - Source: Die ZEIT 19/2009 from 2009/04/30 The billion gap: Health and care insurance, retirement insurance, unemployment insurance. - Source: DIE ZEIT 20/2009 from 2009/05/07 Incentive for Confidence: In your opinion, which European country has got the best requirements to get out of the financial crisis? - Source: DIE ZEIT 25/2009 from 2009/06/10

Scribbling threefold from Die ZEIT. Not supposed to take it seriously?
Source: DIE ZEIT No. 19 from 2009–04–30, No. 20 from 2009–05–07, No. 25 from 2009–06–10.

Funny: We use a computer to make it look handmade. Even the handwriting is a computer font.

Handwriting and painting signal: Love letter. Poetry album. Children’s book. First-grader. Shopping list. Draft. Sketch. Holiday greetings. Note. So rather: Temporary. Hasty. Unfinished. Casual. Raw. Imprecise. Maybe faulty. Unchecked. Unique. Spontaneous. And young.

All want young. I don’t care. Data neither.

Good news from Wall Street

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

The Wall Street Journal (2008–10–23) does it right. Nothing chopped off. The Royal Bank of Scotland in free fall. Nearly 14 %. You see it. The disaster as long as the column wide.

In the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ, 2008–10–23) 29 out of 50 bars for the Stoxx index end trembling in haze.

The reason: To spare nervous investors a lot of stress the SZ cuts everything above 5 %. Consequently, the 15.25 % lost by Repsol, too. Soothing. But nonsense.

Dear SZ, now that you are using beautiful graphical tables, why don’t you use them correctly?

36 cm broad jump for my eyes

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Right: All data within an eyespan.

Wrong: Data as broad as an eyespan. As on the finance pages of the German newspaper Die ZEIT:

Finance page of 'Die ZEIT'
Die ZEIT No. 25, 2008–06–12, p. 30.

These few values would easily fit onto less newspaper. Put below each other, you could have compared them. Sorted somehow would be great, too. Then it would be brain jogging instead of the broad jump for my eyes. Like this, for example:

You must not chop

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Again. My law of proportion. The idea of a chart is: Display proportions between values with proportions of length. Proportional. Proportional. Proportional. You can ignore it. You can also lick out an empty bowl. If you are a rather dumb dog.

I yowled on cheating grids for time axis already. They manipulate. This one is even more elaborate. At first glance you think: a nice man, admits he hasn’t got the data. Wrong. He says: “I tease you but I admit it”. Remove 2001. It suggests that 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 have been the same as 2001. Were they, really?

Source: Euro 06/07, p. 42.

This is Howard’s rule „Ignore the visual metaphor altogether” in action. The data doesn’t fit on paper but I show it. A graph doesn’t fit on your paper? Use a table.

Source: Wirtschaftswoche 27, 2008–06–30, p. 82.

I like „Die Süddeutsche“. Its the first newspaper with graphic tables in the stock market section. And now this. The most interesting information – the outliers, the hotshots and the losers, that what you need to know: hidden. I’ll be on vacation.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2008–07–16.

Where was it, this New Caledonia?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Everyone starts into their vacation. We take a map with us. Maps show wherefrom, whereto, how long, how far, how mountainous, next to what, where can you swim, sleep, refuel. Where Lothar Mathäus is playing football. The Tour de France doesn’t go in circles. Where Robert, Nick, Nico, Timo and Sebastian drive at 320km/h. Where new oil is found. A classic: Netanya? New Caledonia? Where was it?

Source: WAMS no. 27, 2008–07–06, p. 19 and 77.

Impossible without a map: where to where? Chic: the „when“ is there, too.


Source: WAMS no. 27, 2008–07–06, p. 21.

As many elements as variables, perfect.


Source: Motorsport Total

As soon as numbers are in, its difficult. Area and value don’t get along well. It’s merely bearable. We had this issue before. Chic, but superficial. How many states? How many electoral votes?

usa_wams23_080608_s2_450px.png
Source: WAMS 23, 2008–06–08, p. 2.

My Tipp: Show where in the map. Show how much in a table. That’s safe. Like that. Old, new, where, who else. You compare and analyze. Nice.


Source: Die ZEIT 25, 2008–06–12, p. 21.

Under no circumstances: decoration in a map. It ruins everything. Until I recognized what the yellow things meant. Oh dear! Cornfields? Deserts? No. The symbol for radio activity. Nuclear desasters? Contaminated areas? No. Just a little bit of deco …


Source: Die ZEIT 29, 2008–07–10, p. 6.

Good old Times

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Many cut axes just because of Excel. And go to charting hell. Because when you cut you distort. And when you distort you lie. At least with your graph. The graphical change in your data is no longer proportional to the change in values. He explains it quite well with a demolished graph from the SportAuto magazine. Here is a positive example. From the German newspaper “Die ZEIT”. This newspaper is off the mark sometimes, too.

Strike at the German Post, information on market share and letter volume
Die ZEIT, 2008–04–30, p. 37, market share of Deutsche Post (left) and number of letters in Germany in billions (right)

All my rules are observed. Time runs from left to right. Scale starts at zero. The graph is proportional to its values. No exaggeration. No gadgets. No unnecessary percentage signs. Letters in billions, not in single pieces.

In the same issue another good graph. Structure is shown top-down. Labeling where it belongs: next to the columns. At least for the values. I would have left out the series “andere” (“others”). The dots, too.

The demand for academics rises, data on the automotive sector in Germany
Die ZEIT, 2008–04–30, p. 78, academics in the automotive sector, for automobile manufacturers and suppliers

Pimpcharts in his beloved SportAuto newspaper

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

His day was ruined already. His beloved SportAuto newspaper had graphically demolished 500 yards of safety fence. I wanted to comfort him and skimmed through the paper. Issue seven 2006. Insiders know. Ooh…

SportAuto Manual correction of the chart

Page 102 in the same issue: Formula One lap times from two seasons. Smaller engines yet faster again. Very interesting comparison. Good data. Good legend. Beautiful Evidence.

But the chart: a total loss. Reason: Gross negligence. On the right side: That’s how it should have looked like. The two Grand Prix which are not comparable (rain in Australia, new race track in Imola) are left out. During the race they have been faster twice and slower three times. Just the opposite for the training.

Correct display

In the last two issues of SportAuto: not one chart at all. Good.