Apr 16 2014

Rule 1: The first plot you do should never be the one you present

Drawing Good Graphs

The three stages of a telling a story with graphics

Data Exploration

What is the story to tell?

  • you don't care about the little plotting details
  • plots are answering and raising questions

Visualization exploration

Which plot(s) tell the story best?

  • different ways of mapping variables to aesthetics
  • different subsets? summaries?

Match perceptual and data topology: e.g. shape is unordered, so it should be used for unordered variable

Make comparisons as easy as possible:

  • Position on a common scale (Easiest)
  • Position along identical, non-aligned scales
  • Length
  • Angle / Slope
  • Area
  • Volume
  • Colour properties (Hardest)


How can I make it easy for the viewer?

  • nice labeling,
  • careful color choice,
  • captions? annotations?
  • version for screen or print?
  • tweaks to axes, grid lines etc.

Raw R

Polished NYT