Sometimes the y-axis doesn’t start at zero, and it’s fine

November 23, 2015

Topic

Design  /  ,

It’s true. Sometimes it’s okay for the y-axis to start at a non-zero value, which is why Johnny Harris and Matthew Yglesias for Vox tell people to shut up about the y-axis.

The video might seem contradictory to what I said about bar chart baselines, but we basically say the same thing. The context must match the visual, charts that don’t use length as the visual encoding can start at non-zero baselines, and take a second before you sputter a knee-jerk reaction.