Articles Tagged with axis labels

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The graphical visualization skills of the New York Times leave me envious. For that reason, a plot in the sports section on August 12, 2015 regarding aces by male tennis players caught my eye. Not having the data available to the Times, I sort-of re-created the plot below. In the same style, mine shows how many law departments participated in the GC Metrics benchmarking survey, sponsored by Major, Lindsey & Africa, during its first five years.

8-14-15 NY Times
The three salient features of the plot that are discussed below are (1) the location of the axis labels, (2) the case used for them, and (3) the absence of a title.

The axis label for the vertical, y-axis perches on top of that axis and reads left-to-right instead of in the usual location in the middle and rotated 90 degrees. It is easier to read left to right, to be sure, but it takes a moment to locate a label far from the customary place. The axis label for the horizontal axis lurks on the far left, instead of in the middle of the plot. Perhaps this placement has advantages, perhaps not.

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We revisit the same Winston & Strawn plot which appears as the plot as it was in the most recent post in its improved re-incarnation. Now, let’s take up four more observations.

The thick black line on the vertical y-axis adds nothing: It is an example of what is referred to as “chart junk”, an element of a plot that adds no useful information but clutters up the plot and makes it that much harder to grasp.

Second, neither axis has a label to explain what the axis represents. Labels are generally a good thing so that a plot can stand on its own without explanations in the report text.