Data-Ink Ratio – The Problem with Management Reports


Thanks to a colleague for pointing me in the data-ink ratio direction for interesting reading.  I can’t stress the obvious point enough, data must tell a story rather than be presented. You can’t just show the numbers or present a lot of text. You must provide context, trends and a conclusion.

6 principles of graphical integrity:

  1. The representation of numbers, as physically measured on the surface of the graph itself, should be directly proportional to the numerical quantities represented
  2. Clear, detailed and thorough labeling should be used to defeat graphical distortion and ambiguity.  Write out explanations of the data on the graph itself.  Label important events in the data.
  3. Show data variation, not design variation.
  4. In time-series displays of money, deflated and standardized units of monetary measurement are nearly always better than nominal units.
  5. The number of information carrying (variable) dimensions depicted should not exceed the number of dimensions in the data.
  6. Graphics must not quote data out of context.

Net out, think before you put ink to paper.

~ by mdavey on March 19, 2014.

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