Category Archives: Charts

Charts Infographics

Wikipedia – Changing charts #3

It’s getting quite addictive this changing bad charts malarkey.  I found this one today on an entry about Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge:-

Another simple fix, really.  Awful fonts and the seemingly ubiquitous 3d exploded pie were just just crying out to be fixed up, so I replaced it with this:-

Once again, much better, or at least I think so.  More to follow.  I might even have a go at this one (thanks to Jorge Camoes for the suggestion).

Charts Excel

Editing Excel charts with Illustrator/Inkscape

I only discovered this little gem a couple of days ago, but it’s such a useful little hint that I thought I’d share it with you guys.

Excel charts allow you to customise to a pretty decent degree, but you don’t get full control of how everything looks, which can make it a little restrictive.  If you have Illustator or Inkscape however, you can get some control back and edit everything down to the most minute detail.

If you select your chart object in Excel and CTRL+C to copy it, you can then paste the chart into the graphic design studio of your choice.  I use Inkscape as it’s free and open source, but I expect other software such as Illustrator will do the same.

Once the image is pasted in, you can un-group the individual chart elements and from that point forward you can edit every part of your chart so that it looks exactly as you want it to.

That doesn’t mean however that you should then use your new tip to make your charts look horrible.  Just saying.

Charts

Wikipedia – Changing Charts #2

The second in my Wikipedia chart-editing ‘project’ was this, which appeared in the article ‘Ageing of Europe‘, and displays population growth for Russia:-

Whilst it’s not the worst chart in the world, there were a few things I noticed that I was unhappy with.  First of all, the 3d effect.  That had to go.  Also, the nature of the information lends itself much better to a pair of lines for easier reading and interpretation, but there’s a minor problem – the dates are a little disjointed and move in five year increments until 2005, and then we’re seeing the data yearly.  I looked at the source of the data to see if I could find out anything else.  Here are the statistics the data is based on, according to the original chart (source):-

Years

Births

Deaths

Natural
increase, decrease (-)

Infant deaths
under 1 year old

1992

1587.6

1807.4

-219.8

29.2

1995

1363.8

2203.8

-840.0

24.8

2000

1266.8

2225.3

-958.5

19.3

2005

1457.4

2303.9

-846.5

16.1

2006

1479.6

2166.7

-687.1

15.1

2007

1610.1

2080.4

-470.3

14.9

2008

1713.9

2075.9

-362.0

14.4

2009

1761.7

2010.5

-248.8

14.3

2010

1789.6

2031.0

-241.4

13.4

As you can see, the data actually seems to have either been updated, or was incorrect in the first place, as it actually starts at 1992 and finishes at 2010.  There’s still not information for the missing years, however.

I decided to use this seemingly updated information for my chart remake.

And, here it is:-

Once again, I think this paints a clearer picture.  I normalised the date ranges so that each tick is a year – the markers in each line show points where we actually have data, which doesn’t show what happened between, say, 1992 and 1995, but flows and reads much better than before, I think.

Any thoughts/suggestions on this fix?

Charts

Wikipedia – changing charts #1

Some time ago, Jorge Camoes posted about bad charts in Wikipedia and rallied for changes to be made to some truly horrific examples of bad charting.  Last night whilst browsing I noticed a few examples myself and decided to make a start, as some of the examples provided by Jorge still hadn’t been changed.

The entry on Throughput Accounting contained this beauty:-

3d bars and general junk make this a typical bad chart.  I spent an hour or so trying to fix it up a bit.  I’m no expert on accounting, so I just rearranged things a little and tried to make things look clearer and simpler.  No 3d, clearer labelling and re-ordering of the axes resulted in this:-

It’s still not perfect,  but so much better than the original, or at least I think so.  It’s a start, anyway.  Your comments are more than welcome.

Additionally, I wholeheartedly recommend that you also seek out more examples of bad charting and do something to fix them up to make charts on Wikipedia more consistent and junk-free.