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Data Visualization: Do's and Dont's



  • Do use the full axis and maintain consistency.
  • Do have your pie chart equal 100%.
  • Do keep it simple.
  • Do include legends and labels. Be creative!
  • Do pass the squint test.
  • Do ask for others opinions.
  • Do test your visualization against a color blindness simulator.

Example of a Good Data Visualization

Boston T Line Map

Why is this a good visualization?

  • There is a title for the visualization
  • The colors are representative of distinguishing different lines on the subway system
  • The layout is representative of the geographical location
  • What else?



  • Don't use 3D or blow apart effects.
  • Don't use more than six colors (usually).
  • Don't change chart style midstream.
  • Don't make users do visual math.
  • Don't include too much information!

Example of a Bad Data Visualization

Example of a Bad Pie Chart from WTF Visualizations

Why is this a bad visualization?

  • The numbers do not equal 100%
  • It requires users to do the math
  • Difficult to read
  • The pie pieces are not proportionate to their percentage
  • What else?

Additional Reading