WSJ Guide to Info Graphics, Chapter Two

If chapter two of Dona Wong’s The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics were a pie chart, 100% of it would consist of, “CHARTS.” …or, if we’re following Wong’s suggested typography format, “Charts.” So meta, right?

Chapter Two: Chart Smart

Wong spends pages 49–90 emphasizing the importance of selecting the appropriate chart. According to Wong, each chart has a specific purpose and must be used a certain way. More specifically, this is what the second chapter provides:

  • When to use line charts (to show a trend over a period of time)
  • How to use line charts (how thin/thick the line should be, how much chart area the line should occupy, how to choose Y-axis and X-axis increments)
  • Warning to not use “spaghetti lines” (different line types) as well as more than 4 lines
  • How to label (directly, if possible)
  • When and how to use legends
  • When to use bar charts (when comparing discrete quantities)
  • How to use bar charts (the right width of the bar, being consistent with color usage, the right order of the bars, not to truncate, how to represent negative bars)
  • Precaution of pie charts (because they’re difficult to interpret)
  • How to use pie charts when you avoid that precaution (the clockwise, largest-smaller-second largest order, why not to slice, keeping shading simple)
  • When to use grid lines (for huge amounts of data)
  • How to use grid lines (how to flush [or not to flush] whole numbers, how to flush decimals)
  • How to select the best pictograms (simple, symmetrical, clear and crisp when size is reduced, roughly fits in a square)
  • When and how to use maps (when geography is relevant)
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