Data at work: a data visualization book for Excel users

There are three things I pay attention to when I see people making charts in Excel:

#1: Aesthetics. We, Excel users and other mere mortals, aren’t artists or graphic designers, and although we should be aware of the role of aesthetics in our work, we can’t let aesthetics define it. We don’t have the right skills, and when we try […]

Two datavis book deals

A while ago I had this idea of asking Alberto Cairo to read the ebook I was planning to self-publish on my site. I asked Alberto because obviously he is one of the most respected experts in the datavis community as a whole but also because of practical reasons: the book was written in Portuguese and he is one […]

Excel 2016: the elephant (not) in the room

Microsoft is apparently waking up and getting a bit more serious regarding visualization in Excel. Excel 2016 gets a few more chart types but, except for treemaps, nothing really new. We could make them with a little of work, but it’s nice to have them ready to use.

Here are the new chart types in Excel 2016:

Boxplots (box-and-wiskers)



Sunburst (I prefer […]

Poll: Best title/subtitle for my datavis book

Here I am, starring at a blank page trying to find a title that maximizes sales captures the true essence of my book. I wish I could choose an arbitrary title like, say, Autumn in Peking or The Squadron’s Umbrella but, hélas!, some people wouldn’t find that funny enough.

So, I need you to help me, please. The book was […]

Two datavis places I don’t belong to

I’m an introvert, so it’s very easy for me to also be an uncompromising Marxist (the Groucho flavor), specially when it comes to club membership (I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member) but things changed since I discovered data visualization. I love it and love this loose sense of community.
NTTS 2015
Thing […]

By |March 23rd, 2015|Design|3 Comments|

Eurostat, or the art of factoid growing

It saddens me to know that 23-year old Belgium girls are incapable of abstract reasoning, something that everyone in other parts of the world take for granted by the age of 12. That’s why we should praise Eurostat for its dumb-down, infographic-oriented approach to data dissemination. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you may want to take […]

By |March 11th, 2015|Design|Comments Off on Eurostat, or the art of factoid growing|

Bad charts from people who should know better

Over the last few days I came across some really WTF visualizations from respected people and organizations here. They all share the international language of bad design, so I’m sure you don’t need to know Portuguese to (not) understand them.

Público, a newspaper:


The National Council of Education:

Jorge Braga de Macedo, an economist:


FFMS, a foundation who’s mission “is to study, disseminate and debate Portugal’s situation freely and […]

By |October 6th, 2014|Design|2 Comments|

The structure of a data visualization book

There is no one-size-fits-all datavis, but most books are written from a very generic or a graphic design perspective, Stephen Few’s books being one of the exceptions [update: should have also mentioned Naomi Robbins’s book]. So, I decided to write an unsexy entry level data visualization book for the illiterate and artistically challenged spreadsheet user (I also wanted to know if […]

Find the revolution

I have a challenge for you. The chart above displays the evolution of infant mortality rate in Portugal. The years in the x-axis are not labeled on purpose. In one of those years there was a left-wing revolution. Left-wingers say that a sharp decline in the infant death rate is one of the “conquests” of the revolution, while right-wingers say that the […]

For the Greek hairdressers, the party’s over

In the beginning of the Greek debt crisis, Greek hairdressers became one of the symbols of a badly managed country (they could retire at 50 with full benefits). But there is more and more interesting things to say about them.

Take a look at inflation rates for hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments in Greece. This is something that you […]

By |January 28th, 2014|Data|Comments Off on For the Greek hairdressers, the party’s over|