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The Daily Graph

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2013-04-14 13:26:25

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: /04/daily-chart-8

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

We didn't like the way The Economist visualized the data today and came up with a better chart. The Bubble chart on the The Economists's blog is fairly meaningless and China becomes nearly invisible because it is represented with a circle instead of a bubble. Moreover, absolutes numbers of executions makes small countries that carry out death sentences look harmless.

In our Column chart we combined the intuitive visualization from a Bubble chart with the clarity that a Column chart provides. We did this by using multiple columns for countries with a high number of executions. For example, China gets 20 columns to represent the estimated number of 1000 executions that took place there in 2012. You will really need to have a look at the workbook to see how we created the multiple columns. It's easy to understand in Excel but more difficult to explain. We used pictures of hanging ropes to make the information more visual. In Excel, format the data series, select Fill/Picture or texture fill and past an appropriate pic from the clipboard. We stacked them so that one picture represents 2 units.

Additionally, we overlaid an invisible Line chart on the secondary axis to show the number of executions per million citizens. The line itself is invisible but using horizontal markers creates the illusion of "floating" horizontal lines.

Lastly, the workbook shows some good example of using data labels in unorthodox ways.

The stats:

Our assessment of the difficulty of the chart: 8 (out of 10)

Usefulness of the chart for other purposes: 7 (out of 10)

Time it took us to create the chart: 61 minutes (couldn't get it done in an hour)

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