Chapter 3

Choosing Chart Types

“Am I allowed to use pie charts?”—Anonymous workshop attendee

the quote on the previous page is real, and it’s disappointing that anyone would feel such trepidation. It demonstrates how fraught choosing a chart type can become. We stress about making the right choice because we live in an age when charts draw comment and even derision on the social web. Just as the grammar police like to make fun of poor sentences, visual grammarians are ready to pounce when charts don’t meet their rules for proper chart making.

Forget all that. It’s destructive, not constructive, criticism. And although there are a few rules you should know and try to follow, most of them are actually just conventions. When it comes to choosing ...

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