Announcing The Chart Starter Series

So, hey, heads up: The Chart Starter Series is probably not for you. If you know my work well, you are probably already a dataviz whiz. The Chart Starter Series is for your colleague. You know the one. The one who keeps asking you to make their graphs. Tell…

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Harvey Balls

I’m guessing that 90% of the people who search on “Harvey Balls” and end up on this blog post are not here for the same reason I’m here. I’m here to talk to you about qualitative data. And this one can be a little NSFW. Harvey Balls are an…

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What to Look for in a Data Visualization Workshop

Data visualization workshops are an investment into your growth as a leader in your field. They should, if they are good, produce immediate returns on your investment which should show up as significantly increased use of your work, attention from existing and potential customers and partners, and more revenue.

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Make a Pictogram in Excel

This graph type goes by a lot of names: isotype chart, pictograph, or pictogram. Whichever way, it allows us to use symbols rather than stick with the squares that make up the waffle chart. And it is especially well suited to representing small counts of things that can otherwise be…

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First, Sketch.

Some might claim they look at a blank PowerPoint slide and see a source of hope and possibility, similar to how artists supposedly see inspiration in a blank canvas. I call bullshit on this. Artists did not just walk up to a blank canvas and envision their end product. They…

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Most Diagrams Suck

Here’s how to make them more effective. Diagrams come in many different flavors – mind maps, concept maps, flow charts, and so on – but at the core, they are all visualizations of how themes relate to one another. As ubiquitous as diagrams are, they have some significant shortcomings.

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Ever Heard of a Dendrogram?

When Jenny Lyons and I were pulling together the revised chapter on Qualitative Visualization in Effective Data Visualization, 2nd edition, we ended up ditching this section on dendrograms. In the list of most-likely-to-use qualitative visuals, this one is probably not in anyone’s top ten. But we still wanted to…

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Super Fast Small Multiple Graphs in Excel

Every time I show this trick to even veteran Excel ninjas, their heads explode. So you have probably heard me preach the gospel of small multiples once or twice before. Breaking a clutter-y graph into a lot of smaller graphs that show one piece of data at…

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Pre-Work Checklists

I have learned all of these lessons the hard way. I now have two checklists I run through before I have a workshop. One handles logistics and it’ll only be useful if you also run workshops. The other helps me determine whether a potential client and I are a good…

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No Unnecessary Lines

The Lines section of the Data Visualization Checklist helps us enhance reader interpretability by handling a lot of the junk, or what Edward Tufte called the “noise” in the graph. I’m referring to all of the parts of the graph that don’t actually display data or assist reader cognition. Create more readability by deleting unnecessary lines.   The default…

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