- In general, avoid bar plots
- Avoid chart junk and the use of too much ink relative to the information you are displaying. Keep it simple and clear.
- Avoid pie charts, because humans have difficulty perceiving relative angles.
- Pay attention to scale, and make scales consistent.
- Explore several ways to display the data!
12 Tips on How to Display Data Badly
Adapted from Wainer H. How to Display Data Badly. The American Statistician 1984; 38: 137-147.
- Show as few data as possible
- Hide what data you do show; minimize the data-ink ratio
- Ignore the visual metaphor altogether
- Only order matters
- Graph data out of context
- Change scales in mid-axis
- Emphasize the trivial; ignore the important
- Jiggle the baseline
- Alphabetize everything.
- Make your labels illegible, incomplete, incorrect, and ambiguous.
- More is murkier: use a lot of decimal places and make your graphs three dimensional whenever possible.
- If it has been done well in the past, think of another way to do it
- Stephen Few: Designing Effective Tables and Graphs. http://www.perceptualedge.com/images/Effective_Chart_Design.pdf
- Gary Klaas: Presenting Data: Tabular and graphic display of social indicators. Illinois State University, 2002. http://lilt.ilstu.edu/gmklass/pos138/datadisplay/sections/goodcharts.htm (Note: The web site will be discontinued to be replaced by the Just Plain Data Analysis site).