Chapter 22. Titles, Captions, and Tables

A data visualization is not a piece of art meant to be looked at only for its aesthetically pleasing features. Instead, its purpose is to convey information and make a point. To reliably achieve this goal when preparing visualizations, we have to place the data into context and provide accompanying titles, captions, and other annotations. In this chapter, I will discuss how to properly title and label figures. I will also discuss how to present data in table form.

Figure Titles and Captions

One critical component of every figure is the title. Every figure needs a title. The job of the title is to accurately convey to the reader what the figure is about, what point it makes. However, the figure title may not necessarily appear where you were expecting to see it. Consider Figure 22-1. Its title is “Corruption and human development: the most developed countries experience the least corruption.” This title is not shown above the figure. Instead, the title is provided as the first part of the caption block, underneath the figure display. This is the style I am using throughout this book. I consistently show figures without integrated titles and with separate captions. (An exception are the stylized plot examples in Chapter 5, which instead have titles and no captions.)

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Figure 22-1. Corruption and human development: the most developed countries ...

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