How I developed a new appreciation for basic charts?


I just had to share a personal thought today on using charts to make an analysis better. I know everyone probably already knew this about charts, so it is nothing new, but I never really consciously thought about how the audience would digest all the facts and figures. I always focused on getting the right numbers or making sure the data is accurate. I never really put a lot of thought into a data story. While going through this great Dataquest “Visualizing Data with Excel” class, I have a new appreciation for charts and graphs and how to tell a data story.

Charts can help with almost every step of the data analysis process. I never really thought of using charts to help with data cleaning, but a scatter plot and histogram can quickly show any outliers or formatting errors.

Lastly, as I read all the great projects, I immediately look for a chart versus reading a table. Even though I was always big on spreadsheets, tables or reports, I now realize just how important charts really are for the audience. It is so much easier to read a chart than a 20-line table.

I found this article online about creating charts and found it helpful from quartz at work.

Basically, this is nothing new to everyone, but I just wanted to share my new appreciation for the basics.


Thanks for sharing that link. It’s especially interesting to know that they trained their journalists to create their own charts; journalists do a lot of explanatory work so it makes sense that they would be invested in making charts that are accessible and digestible to their readers.

I am the same. I wonder if this typically happens to self-learners who think that what they’re analyzing is only for their own eyes only. When in reality, most would be showing their analysis and its results to other people later on. From what I’ve seen, data science - like any other fields - is not just about the analysis, but also about communicating the results of said analysis.