Tag Archives: bars

Charts Infographics What???

Sometimes bars can be rubbish, too (in the wrong hands)

I was just made aware of this monstrosity (thanks to John Walkenbach) on the CNN Money website in an article which explains how the US treasury has less cash on hand than Apple (full article).

Umm, where to start with this one?  There’s just so much wrong…

  • Poor use of graphics which do nothing but confuse the eye when simple bars would be much easier to use.  The top right hand corner of the money pile is the top of the ‘bar’ – even the designer has placed the piles of money between lines to try to make it easier to see this, but it doesn’t work.  In fact, doing this makes for an unusual optical illusion, so none of the lines appear straight..at least not to me anyway.
  • The bottom of the piles should be at zero on the axis, but they sit at what I would guess to be about $30.000.  It doesn’t look right.
  • There’s no point in the labels on the vertical axis, as the actual figures have been marked at the top of the bars themselves.
  • Having said that, because there are only two figures to compare, there really isn’t any point in displaying anything visual like this.  It might work if comparing three or more balances, but it’s more than obvious that the figure for Apple is larger than the one for the US.

I actually can’t think of anything I like about this image at all.  Any opinions?