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The Daily Graph
Winning over the crowd

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2013-01-27 15:47:09

The Economist newspaper publishes a fancy daily chart on its blog. In our blog we replicate the chart using standard run-of-the-mill Excel techniques. Usually we get close, sometimes it's more difficult.

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Here's the link to today's Economist chart: /01/daily-chart-12

The main tricks for creating the chart in Excel are revealed further down in this blog. You can view all the ins-and-outs by downloading the Excel workbook. Use the workbook as you like: copy, change and/or distribute it -- we are pleased when you are.

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This is what it looks like in Excel

The Daily Graph

Tricks for creating the chart in Excel

The data jockeys at the Economist turned the chart from January 17 in a crowd-sourced competition for the best way to show a data set that is best left as a table with numbers. A very nice idea, but it makes you wonder why they didn't wait until they had a more meaningful data visualisation case.

As evidenced by the comments on visualisation geeks worldwide responded to the call to arms. From what we can tell, most respondents used graphics packages to create their charts. We liked the Bubble chart from Alexander Budzier best, even though he used a broken axis to display the Success rate % (a definite N-O in our rule book).

To chip in (and to give guidance to the world's data visualisation amateurs with only Excel at hand), we recreated Alexander's chart using Excel 2007 (arguably one of the worst charting tools on the market). We took the liberty to get rid of the broken axis and to add the amount of the average pledge in the bubbles; we thought this would be more meaningful than hanging on to Alexander's shades of blue.

As the chart is fairly easy to do in Excel, we won't elaborate too much. Just make sure to have a data series for every bullet on the chart. You'll get stuck pretty quickly if you try to put all data points in a single data series -- at the latest when you start adding data labels. Have a look at the Excel workbook that you can download from this blog to see exactly what we did.

The stats:

Our assessment of the difficulty of the chart: 4 (out of 10)

Usefulness of the chart for other purposes: 2 (out of 10 - so called data experts should stop visualising data that is best left as a table)

Time it took us to create the chart: 21 minutes


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