Data Visualization: Charts, Graphics, Interactive Illustrations

Visualizing data

Crime in the NYC Subway

NYPost: Killings in NYC subway system skyrocket to highest level in 25 years — even as ridership plummeted


A New York Times analysis of M.T.A. and police statistics shows that the possibility of falling victim to violent crime in the subway remains remote, even as the rate of violent crimes — murder, rape, felony assault and robbery — per subway ride has more than doubled since 2019, before the pandemic’s disruption.

Put into perspective, the current rate of 1.2 violent crimes for every one million rides is roughly equal to the chance of getting injured in a crash if one drives a car two miles.

National Debt

Opioid Epidemic


Why So Many Children of Immigrants Rise to the Top

Using the data set, Professor Abramitzky and Professor Boustan were able to compare the income trajectories of immigrants’ children with those of people whose parents were born in the United States. The economists found that on average, the children of immigrants were exceptionally good at moving up the economic ladder.

The lack of a shared set of facts about immigration makes it easy for accusatory and often false messages to echo loudly in the run-up to the midterm elections. J.D. Vance, a leading Republican candidate for Ohio’s open Senate seat, claimed in a recent advertisement that “Joe Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans, with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country.” Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona has described immigration as “full scale invasion.” Tucker Carlson of Fox News told a guest on his show in 2017: “Go to Lowell, Mass., or Lewiston, Maine, or any place where large numbers of immigrants have been moved into a poor community, and it hasn’t become richer. It’s become poorer. That’s real.”

WSJ: Fines for Unruly Passengers

The most unusual job market in modern American history, explained

2021 The Year in Charts

Pandemic Aid Programs Spur a Record Drop in Poverty

NYC Bus Drivers in Line of Fire as Some Riders Flout Mask Rules

Pandemic Aid Programs Spur a Record Drop in Poverty

What Data Shows About Vaccine Supply and Demand in the Most Vulnerable Places

How the Supply Chain Crisis Unfolded

Force Report

Five years. 72,677 documents. Every local police department in N.J. We built the most comprehensive statewide database of police use of force in the U.S.

All the Presidents’ Meals

State dinners of the presidents visualized.

Public opinion of OWS


That Dinner Tab Has Soared. Here Are All the Reasons.

The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score
Across industries and incomes, more employees are being tracked, recorded and ranked. What is gained, companies say, is efficiency and accountability. What is lost?

Bussed Out

Workers’ Comp Benefits: How Much is a Limb Worth?

“If you suffer a permanent injury on the job, you’re typically entitled to compensation for the damage to your body and your future lost wages. But depending on the state, benefits for the same body part can differ dramatically.”

Interactive Tools

The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares

“Children who grow up in some places go on to earn much more than they would if they grew up elsewhere.” —

Is It Better to Rent or Buy?

“The choice between buying a home and renting one is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make. But the costs of buying are more varied and complicated than for renting, making it hard to tell which is a better deal. To help you answer this question, our calculator takes the most important costs associated with buying a house and computes the equivalent monthly rent.” —


It is often said that ‘information wants to be free,’ but it is even truer in the digital age that information wants to be analyzed, shared, synthesized, curated, aggregated, commented on and distributed. — Journalism Next, Mark Briggs

The Internet and social networks have opened up countless new ways for journalists to take the pulse of the nation and world. While aiming to avoid invasions of privacy, content on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even Craigslist can be used to tell stories.


The Rhythm of Food

The 258 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete Listrump

Mapping Stories

Trump vs. Biden: Who’s Winning the Money Race in Your ZIP Code?


Where American Men Aren’t Working


“It’s vastly more common today than it was decades ago for prime-age men not to be working. Across the country, 16 percent of such men are not working, be they officially unemployed or outside of the labor force — disabled, discouraged, retired, in school or taking care of family. That number has more than tripled since 1968.” —

Spies in the Skies

“America is being watched from above. Government surveillance planes routinely circle over most major cities — but usually take the weekends off.”

Losing Ground

“In 50 years, most of southeastern Louisiana not protected by levees will be part of the Gulf of Mexico. The state is losing a football field of land every 48 minutes — 16 square miles a year — due to climate change, drilling and dredging for oil and gas, and levees on the Mississippi River. At risk: Nearly all of the nation’s offshore oil and gas production, much of its seafood production, and millions of homes.” — ProPublica


A Rogue State Along Two Rivers


“The militant group called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, seemed to surprise many American and Iraqi officials with the recent gains it made in its violent campaign to create a new religious state. But the rapid-fire victories achieved over a few weeks in June were built on months of maneuvering along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.”

Why, How and When to Visualize Data

Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats

Another excellent data viz video: Ted Talk- David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

A. Insight from Edward Tufte


Tufte is the author of “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” and “Envisioning Information.” He has been called “The Leonardo da Vinci of data,” by the New York Times and “The Galileo of graphics,” by Business Week.


1. Above all else, show the data

2. Induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the tech of graphic production, or something else.

3. Avoid distorting the data, reflect balance, a proportion, a sense of relevant scale and eliminate “chart-junk.”


4. Present many numbers in a small space.

A map of the Napoleon’s Grande Armée’s advance and retreat into Russia

Charles Joseph Minard was a French civil engineer that created what Tufte calls, “The greatest statistical graphic ever drawn.” The graphic displays six different sets of data: latitude, longitude, direction of movement, time, temperature, and size of the army.

5. Make large datasets coherent.

6. Encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data.

7. Reveal data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure.

8. Serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation, or decoration.

9. Use words, numbers and drawings together.

“Lousy graphics omit context, bury critical information, cherry-pick data to advance a cause and heap on “chartjunk’’—a Tufteism (and there are many) for the smiley faces, irrelevant numbers and other doodads that distract us from grasping evidence, thinking about it and drawing smart conclusions.” — Intelligent Designs

Clarity and Audience Considerations: Coronavirus

How Bad Will the Coronavirus Outbreak Get?

NYTimes: The chart above uses a logarithmic vertical scale: data near the top is compressed into a smaller space to make the variation between less-deadly diseases easier to see. Diseases near the top of the chart are much deadlier than those in the middle.

“Most data graphics do not come with directions of use because dataviz designers follow certain conventions. We do not need to tell you, for example, that time runs left to right on the horizontal axis (substitute right to left for those living in right-to-left countries). It’s when we deviate from the norms that calls for a “How to Read this Chart” box.” —

13,000 Missing Flights: The Global Consequences of the Coronavirus

B. Selecting the right visualization for your data set

You can use charts to compare and show contrast, visualize trends or patterns, identify factoids or outliers, express change over time, present hierarchy like part to a whole, proportions, ranges, distributions and more.

What is your goal? Show change over time, identify patterns, make comparisons, investigate outliers, personalize with databases.

– How much has something changed?
– Who or where experienced the most change? Who changed the least?
– Which company or person got the most money?
– What is typical – and who stands out the most as being atypical?
– How often does a name appear? Where?
– How much was spent in total on something?

– Finding Stories with Spreadsheets, Paul Bradshaw


Periodic Table of Storytelling



FT: Visual Vocabulary

Interactive Graphics


C. What chart is best for your story?

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories

Choosing a good chart

What is your goal: to compare? to show the parts of a whole? to show a range? to illustrate a relationship?

Choose a visualization type



NICAR: Choosing a Chart/Information Design

Bar chart: comparing data across categories

Bar charts are  especially effective when you have numerical data that splits nicely into different  categories so you can quickly see trends within your data. Bar charts (horizontal bars) and Column charts (vertical bars) are the easiest way to visualize comparisons within 1 category. One axis = category compared. Second axis = values compared for that category. Compare how much, how many, how different.

Democrats and Republicans Aren’t Just Divided. They Live in Different Worlds

You can see the change most dramatically by looking at House districts ranked by their contribution to GDP. A decade ago, Democrats represented House districts with both the most and least economic output. — WSJ

Today, the picture is very different. Democrats are even more dominant among high-producing districts, while Republicans now represent more of those with the least economic activity. — WSJ

The Aging of America

Stacked bar charts display bars that include 2 or more data points of a given data category, on top of each other.  Example: Number of Women, number of Men, Total of Congressman from Each Party in Congress.
 Used “to show how a larger category is divided into smaller categories and what the relationship of each part has on the total amount.”

The Race Gap in America’s Police Departments


Daily Routines of Famous Creative People


Two Dramas in Slow Motion


Column Chart

Which Countries Are Under the Most Strain in the European Migration Crisis?

“Germany has received more applicants than any other European Union nation, with more than 154,000 migrants seeking asylum from January to June, up from 68,000 in the same period last year. When adjusted for population, Hungary and Sweden are among the top recipients.”–

Bloomberg: Based on an analysis that included the candidate’s 92-page personal financial disclosure form, his wealth is closer to $2.9 billion.

The Language of the State of the Union

“An interactive chart reveals how the words presidents use reflect the twists and turns of American history.” – Atlantic Monthly

Is It Better to Rent or Buy?

“The choice between buying a home and renting one is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make. But the costs of buying are more varied and complicated than for renting, making it hard to tell which is a better deal. To help you answer this question, our calculator takes the most important costs associated with buying a house and computes the equivalent monthly rent.” —

Line charts: change or trends over a period of time

Line charts connect individual numeric data points. The result is a simple, straightforward way to visualize a sequence of values. Their primary use is to display trends over a period of time.

Examples: stock price change over a five-year period, website page views during a month, revenue growth by quarter.

Good for visualizing trends, relations.
 Watch it: too many lines can make the chart hard to understand. Usually the Y-axis has a quantitative value and the X-axis “has either a category or sequenced scale.”

Bloomberg: How Americans Die


Gun deaths vs. terrorism deaths


Angela Merkel: 10 years in 10 charts


NYT: How Likely Is It That Birth Control Could Let You Down?

For every 100 women, the number who will have an unplanned pregnancy over a given number of years.


How The Internet* Talks

You Draw It: How Family Income Predicts Children’s College Chances


The Young/Old Voting Gap, 1972-2012

Pie charts: show relative proportions – or percentages

Pie charts should be used to show relative proportions – or percentages – of information. That’s it. Despite this narrow recommendation for when to use pies, they are made with abandon. As a result, they are the most commonly mis-used chart type.
If you are trying to compare data, leave it to bars or stacked bars. Don’t ask your viewer to translate pie wedges into relevant data or compare one pie to another. Key points from your data will be missed and the viewer has to work too hard.

Examples: percentage of budget spent on different departments, response categories from a survey, breakdown of how Americans spend their leisure time.

40 charts that explain the world

Area chart: line chart meets pie chart

How Non-employed Americans Spend Their Weekdays


The Changing Face of America, 1965-2065

How Diverse is Your Generation?

Who Earned a Higher Salary Than You?


Scatter plot: investigate the relationship between different variables

Examples: Male versus female likelihood of having lung cancer at different ages, technology early adopters’ and laggards’ purchase patterns of smart phones, shipping costs of different product categories to different regions.

WashPost: Where police forces don’t resemble the communitypoliceforcecommunity

Bubble chart: show the concentration of data along two axes

Bubbles are not their own type of visualization but instead should be viewed as a technique to accentuate data on scatter plots or maps. People are drawn to using bubbles because the varied size of circles provides meaning about the data.

Snake Oil Supplements?


Student Debt at Colleges and Universities Across the Nation


“The average amount of debt that students have at graduation has increased at a vast majority of colleges and universities in the United States, according to data compiled by an advocacy group, the Institute for College Access and Success. The data on student debt is self-reported by the schools, and many institutions don’t participate. Other figures, like graduation rates, come from the Education Department.” — NYTimes

The Voting Habits of Americans Like You

The electorate is increasingly divided by race, education, gender and generation, and these fissures could grow even wider in the 2016 election. Below, new estimates of turnout and support for more than 8,000 different groups.

Hollywood Insider: Movies

A Day in the Life of Americans

Histogram chart: understanding the range of your data
Histograms show distributions of variables whereas bar charts compare variables.

Use histograms when you want to see how your data are distributed across groups.
Say, for example, that you’ve got 100 pumpkins and you want to know how many

weigh 2 pounds or less, 3-5 pounds, 6-10 pounds, etc.


Treemap: Showing hierarchical data as a proportion of a whole

Looking to see your data at a glance and discover how the different pieces relate
to the whole? Then treemaps are for you. These charts use a series of rectangles,
nested within other rectangles, to show hierarchical data as a proportion to the whole.


Obama Budget


Billion Dollar Gram


Heat map: compare data across categories using color

Where the Heat and the Thunder Hit Their Shots


Flow Charts: illustrating flow or process

512 Paths to the White House
Select a winner in the most competitive states below to see all the paths to victory available for either candidate.

obamawinData Visualizations

FiveThirtyEight: 47 Weirdest Visualizations

994 mass shootings in 1,004 days: this is what America’s gun crisis looks like


Syrian Conflict Explained


dogsThe Best in Show – the ultimate data dog
Dog data

“We examined dogs on intelligence, longevity, genetic ailments and other markers to create a “data-score” and then plotted it against public popularity of various breeds, according to the American Kennel Club.”

Who Old Are You?


The Internet of Things


Propublica Workman’s Compensation

limbquiz“If you suffer a permanent injury on the job, you’re typically entitled to compensation for the damage to your body and your future lost wages. But depending on the state, benefits for the same body part can differ dramatically.”


Gay rights in the US, state by state

“Gay rights laws in America have evolved to allow — but in some cases ban — rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people on a range of issues, including marriage, hospital visitation, adoption, housing, employment and school bullying. The handling of gay rights issues vary by state and follow trends by region.” — Guardian

WaPo: Top Secret America

Public opinion of OWS

Fractions of a Second: An Olympic Musical
At the Olympics, the blink of an eye can be all that separates the gold medalist from the 10th-place finisher. In some events, this is obvious. But in others, with athletes racing one by one, the closeness of the race is harder to perceive.

Life Expectancy