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|

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|8 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|9 Comments|

Chart redraw: Troops Vs. Cost (Time Magazine)

Time Magazine published a very boring combo dual-axes chart with a broken scale. Most of the time these charts beg for a connected scatterplot, so I made the one above. The original chart was something like this: I’m sorry, Time mag,  but my chart tells hands down a much more interesting story. [UPDATE] Made a new, annotated version.

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 […]