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|0 Comments|

Easy way to make bullet charts and boxplots in Excel

I am sure I’m missing something here, but I don’t understand why making bullet charts and boxplots have to be so overly complex in Excel. Instead of messing around with bars and scales and secondary axes, a 1D scatterplot can be used to make both charts. I’ve been using this (obvious?) solution for a long time. I’m sure it […]

By |November 20th, 2013|Tutorials|6 Comments|

A classification of chart types

A few weeks ago, I needed a classification of chart types for my book, and reinventing the wheel was the last thing I wanted to do. I started with Andrew’s classification and the Juice Analytics version. It’s a good starting point, but I couldn’t fit it into my work, so I decided to design my own classification (it’s always nice […]

By |November 4th, 2013|Chart Types|8 Comments|

Chart redraw: Troops Vs. Cost (Time Magazine)

This chart is very similar to the original, published this week in the Time magazine:

I don’t like dual-axes charts. Actually, they don’t like themselves and they beg for a connected scatterplot, so here it is:


This is hands down a much more interesting story.



Infographics vs. Data Visualization

People keep asking what the difference is between data visualization and infographics. Since I’m not completely satisfied with the available answers I thought I could return to the subject and write my own.

First, you have to recognize  that you can’t compare them because they are not at the same level. Things get much simpler if we assume that data visualization […]

By |October 2nd, 2013|Design|8 Comments|

Why I don’t like bar charts

Pies charts are fun to use, but it’s almost impossible for grown-ups to find a good reason for using them at work. So your first, safe-for-work choice is a bar chart. The boring bar chart.

I don’t like bar charts. There, I said it.

This is a little rant about bar charts, but also about the Eurostat. One of my first […]

By |September 17th, 2013|Chart Types|8 Comments|

Excel dashboard: Using Excel for catchment area analysis

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Walmart growth map. A basic visualization looks like this:

 Obviously this has a lot of potential for a more design-oriented approach, and there are many examples online. Here is the map created by Nathan Yau at FlowingData:

I wanted to play with the data too, but from an Excel user perspective there isn’t much […]

Strange L-shaped trends

There is not much of a story in the expected evolution of US population, according to the United Nations estimates and projections (1950-2100):

(You’ll see in a moment why there is a vertical line in 2005.) Things get a little more interesting if you split population by age groups. You can see that population is getting old at the top […]

Making Excel maps without VBA

If you want to make a choropleth/thematic map in Excel without programming perhaps conditional formatting is all you need. Here is how to do it:

Select a few hundred columns and rows;
Set width and height to 3 (more or less, depending on the resolutions you want);
Set font size to 1;
Place a map file over those cells and make it transparent […]

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    Finally revealed: the optimal number of categories in a pie chart

Finally revealed: the optimal number of categories in a pie chart

It’s very simple, really: you do not compare proportions in a pie chart. Because a pie chart is not a comparison chart, it’s a part-to-whole chart. When you do this:

what you really want to do is to compare each slice to the whole, like this:

because, if you want to compare them you must do this:

I hope that you find […]

By |February 14th, 2013|Chart Types|11 Comments|