After reading the article Good Graphs for Better Business by W. S. Cleveland & N.I. Fisher I got a few more tips on how to construct good graphs ( they also mention the importance of effective use of colour, choice of aspect ratio, displaying large volumes of data and use of false origin):
- the process of effective graph construction begins with simple analyses to see what sorts of patterns, that is, information, are present.
- for many graphs, pattern detection is far more acute when the data are measured from a common baseline, so that we are comparing aligned lengths
- re-arranging the values in a dot plot so that they are in decreasing order provides greatly enhanced pattern recognition
- graph construction is an iterative process
- sometimes more than one graph is needed to show all the interesting patterns in the best way
- two very commonly-used displays, pie charts and divided bar charts, typically do a poor job of revealing pattern
I guess these are things I already know, but since they’re so important it’s worth repeating.