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How to Make Unit Charts with Icon Images in R

Make the unit chart less abstract with icons that represent the data, or use this in place of a bar chart.

You’ve probably seen the charts where instead of dots, icons represent data points to provide a less abstract representation of the subject material. A lot of the time it’s people silhouettes, which is why there’s a People font.

The font is for the web though. There’s a straightforward way to do this in R. We’ll draw from a previous tutorial on unit charts for organization and grids, so the main task is figuring out how to load and place images on a plot.

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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.