Less is more

In the business world I come across some really awful charts.  Take for example the one below (I’ve changed the categories and title to protect the innocent!):

awful chart

What exactly is the message behind this chart?  What data is important to know?

It turned out that the “bird” data was important.  The category had increased by 60% in the last month.  Looking at that chart can you tell that the “bird” category has improved?  Can you even tell that the “bird” category is important?

If you want to show an improvement, plot the before and after.  This can be done very simply using a line chart with the before and after being plotted, or even as a stacked bar chart.  Either of those alternatives would have presented the data in a better way.  Leaving aside the incorrect chart choice, and the improvement for now though, how could you simplify the above graph so that the important data is being shown?  Have a look at the video below to learn more.


I leave it to you to decide which is the better version!

awful chart     better chart

Hope this helps!

+Alesandra Blakeston

4 thoughts on “Less is more

  1. Agree. The second is better, more modern and easier to understand. It still makes me cringe to see graphs and ppts coming out with shading, pseudo 3d effects, and other embellishments that ultimately take your attention away from the key message.

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