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How to Make a Bump Chart in R, with ggplot

Visualize rankings over time instead of absolute values to focus on order instead of the magnitude of change.

The bump chart is a line chart variant that focuses specifically on ranks over time instead of absolute values.

The advantage of the bump chart is that it’s unaffected by large differences in magnitudes, whereas a standard line chart might find itself with a bunch of lines clustered at the bottom because of a high-value category. The bump chart instead spaces ranks evenly.

With this in mind, the process of making a bump chart is similar to making a line chart in ggplot. The difference is that you need to calculate ranks first (if they’re not available already), and because you’re looking at ranks, it is a good idea to adjust the vertical scale accordingly.

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About the Author

Maarten is a data journalist and data visualization consultant from Belgium. He likes maps, ggplot and a good story.