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:
- The representation of numbers, as physically measured on the surface of the graph itself, should be directly proportional to the numerical quantities represented
- 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.
- Show data variation, not design variation.
- In time-series displays of money, deflated and standardized units of monetary measurement are nearly always better than nominal units.
- The number of information carrying (variable) dimensions depicted should not exceed the number of dimensions in the data.
- Graphics must not quote data out of context.
Net out, think before you put ink to paper.