This data tip comes from the grandfather of modern data visualization: Edward Tufte. He originally recommended the elimination any non-data ink from data visualizations. Although today we might think more in terms of pixels than ink. The idea is to remove any distractors from the story that a data visualization--such as a bar chart or line graph--shows. Such distractors can include bells and whistle such as bars on a bar chart drawn as people or buildings (Tufte called this “chartjunk”). But there are more subtle distractors like graph lines and background color. The two images here show the same data, but the one on the right is stripped down to the essentials: no graph lines, no axis titles, only the visual information necessary to see the slope and to quantify it. So next time you visualize data, try simplifying so that your story shines through.
Note: 60-Second Data Tips will resume in January 2018. Happy New Year!
See other data tips in this series for more information on how to effectively visualize and make good use of your organization's data.