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How to Make a State Grid Map in R

Something of a cross between a reference table and a map, the state grid provides equal space to each state and a semblance of the country to quickly pick out individual states.

Most people recognize a state map, which makes it useful if you have state-level data. The problem is that states vary in size, so the bigger states will always take more visual space than the smaller states. Enter the grid map. Each cell represents a state and is roughly placed in the corresponding geographic location.

If you color the cells by data, you can still kind of get a sense of geographic patterns. But instead of an alternative to state choropleth map, I think of it more as an alternative for a list or a bar chart. Because of the placement, a reader can find their own state quickly and the form doesn’t take a ton of space.

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About the Author

Nathan Yau is a statistician who works primarily with visualization. He earned his PhD in statistics from UCLA, is the author of two best-selling books — Data Points and Visualize This — and runs FlowingData. Introvert. Likes food. Likes beer.