Uggh. Can We Please Not Make These Sort of Truncated-Scale Charts?

Truncating the Y-axis scale on charts to exaggerate apparent trends makes me crazy.  Example

click to enlarge

By the way, while I am complaining, there is ZERO reason in this chart to show each bar in a different color.  The color adds no value and only serves to distract.



  1. tmitsss:

    That's why we used Darrell Huff's book in business school

  2. STW:

    It all depends on whether the purpose of the chart is to convey information or hide information.

  3. marque2:

    I have to say though a 10% reduction over 30 years isn't bad. In suspect though that there wasn't a drop in union membership. I bet states that are right to work are hiring more teachers at a faster pace and that is the reason for the decline in percentage.

  4. Chris:

    Irony alert: Chart makers are from the Education Intelligence Agency

  5. markm:

    The colors allowed the designer to crowd the bars together and keep them distinct. Of course, you could do the same thing with outlines, but that would lose the 3D effect. Or a connect-the-dots graph would present the actual information better - but to many businessmen, as well as graphical designers and news editors, it's more important to be visually striking than to present the data accurately.

  6. Matthew Slyfield:

    A line chart would have worked better for this than a bar chart.

  7. Dan:

    "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" by Edward Tufte, discusses this and many other graphical lies. See also his essay on "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint." You'll never see things the same way afterwards.