Guides

Tips and suggestions for working with and designing with data.

Visualizing Patterns on Repeat

Things have a way of repeating themselves, and it can be useful to highlight these patterns in data.

Why People Make Bad Charts (and What to Do When it Happens)

It's important to consider the reasons so that we don't overreact. Otherwise, we're just berating, pointing, and laughing all of the time, and that's not good for anyone.

Visualizing Differences

Focus on finding or displaying contrasting points, and some visual methods are more helpful than others. A guide.

Visualizing Outliers

Step 1: Figure out why the outlier exists in the first place. Step 2: Choose from these visualization options to show the outlier.

Visualizing Incomplete and Missing Data

We love complete and nicely formatted data. That's not what we get a lot of the time.

Visualizing the Uncertainty in Data

Data is an abstraction, and it's impossible to encapsulate everything it represents in real life. So there is uncertainty. Here are ways to visualize the uncertainty.

4 Tools to Pick Your Chart Colors

These are the quick and simple tools I use to pick colors to represent data.

Falling is Learning

I’ve been teaching my three-year-old son how to ride his bike on two…

Useless Data Comparisons

Apples and oranges situations where the comparisons make no sense.

Summary Statistics Tell You Little About the Big Picture

Mean, median, and mode. These are the first things you learn about in…

How Histograms Work

The histogram is one of my favorite basic chart types, because it lets…

How to Spot Visualization Lies

Many charts don't tell the truth. This is a simple guide to spotting them.

One Dataset, Visualized 25 Ways

"Let the data speak" they say. But what happens when the data rambles on and on?

Resources to Find the Data You Need, 2016 Edition

This is an update to the guide I wrote in 2009, which as it turns out, is now mostly outdated. So, 2016. Here we go.

Learning R Versus d3.js for Visualization

For those who work with R and d3.js, the differences between the two…

Shorten the Visualization Path Back to Reality

Visualization is complex, but if I were to break it down simply, I’d…

5 Tips for Learning to Code for Visualization

Here are some tips to get you started, based on my own experiences with R, and more recently, the JavaScript library d3.js.

What I Use to Visualize Data

“What tool should I learn? ” I hesitate to answer, because I use what works best for me, which isn't necessarily the best for someone else or the “best” overall. Nevertheless, here's my toolset.

Venn Diagrams: Read and Use Them the Right Way

Venn diagrams seem straightforward, but why all the mistakes? Here's a guide to avoid the snafus.

Bar Chart Baselines Start at Zero

There are visualization rules and there are visualization suggestions. Most are suggestions. The ones that are rules exist because of how our brains process visual information. There's just no getting around it.