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A Keen Eye for Graphics - ACES 2012 | New Orleans

Editing graphics

Bill Cloud

University of North Carolina

at Chapel Hill


The agenda

• Game 1: Find the error.

• A quick look at graphics.

• Discussion: How can we reduce errors?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


• Is free of errors.

• Is easily understood by the readers.

• Makes good use of its allotted space.

• Is clearly connected to the story.

• Has text elements that complement, rather

than repeat, accompanying headlines.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


A good map …

• Includes, in most cases, both a north

pointer and a distance scale.

• Clearly labels the significant elements on

the map.

• Labels streets and other landmarks

mentioned in the story.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


A good chart …

Presents information clearly without

wasting space.

Reflects changes in the value of the dollar.

Reflects changes in the population.

Puts numbers into perspective.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


A map should be clear

and uncluttered

(Unlike this one.)

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Does this work?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


• Would

numbers and

a legend (as

done here) be

more clear?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Distance scales:

Needed or not?

Almost every

map, including

this one, needs

to show

distances.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Distance scales:

Needed or not?

This is probably a

reasonable

exception because

we’re showing the

entire United States

and aren’t

concerned with

distances.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Have we puzzled the reader?

Why is Palawan highlighted?

Readers should’t be forced to search through a story to understand a map.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Do story and map connect?

Here, the cutline with the map makes the difference.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Does the map aid the reader?

Where is Eighth Avenue?

How will traffic detour?

Can we show the route?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


When AP steals the good words

Strive to avoid word repetition between

the headline and the graphic. Rewrite

the graphic text, if necessary.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


When AP steals the good words

Strive to avoid word repetition between

the headline and the graphic. Rewrite

the graphic text, if necessary.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


… or your artist steals the good

words

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


When we use the wrong words

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Accounting for inflation

Stamp prices shown are

misleading …

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Accounting for inflation

…unless you

consider the

changing value of

the dollar, as

indicated by the

lengthened lines.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Check inflation at bls.gov


Accounting for inflation

Heres an

interesting chart

showing the

growth of the

Maine lobster

business. The

problem is …

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Accounting for inflation

Value of lobsters

in 2000 dollars

… It doesnt reflect the change in the value of the dollar

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Accounting for inflation

Price Per Pound in

2000 dollars

6.00

$3.00

Actually, the price

peaked in 1973!

1950 2002

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Controlling for population

The chart shows

differences in

funding amounts

among states and

some cities, but

those differences

mainly reflect

population

differences.

Compare it with a

graph of the state

populations.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Controlling for population

A per-capita

comparison

presents a very

different

picture.

Bill Cloud, UNC-

Chapel Hill


The usual suspects?


More than half of U.S. states have submitted few or no mental health

records to a federal background check system. The law aims to

keep mentally unstable people from buying guns by flagging their

record when they apply for a permit.

Number of mental health records shared with the

federal background check system, by state

0-10 11-100 101-1,000 1,001-10,000 10,000+

R.I.

Del.

D.C.

NOTE: Records as of June 30, 2010

SOURCE: National Instant Criminal Background Check System

AP

Editor!s Note: It is mandatory to include all

sources that accompany this graphic when

repurposing or editing it for publication

MENTAL HEALTH GUNS 021711:

U.S. map shows state-by-state breakdown of

compliance in sending mental health records

for use in federal background check system;

2c x 4 inches; 96 mm x 102 mm; with

BC-Guns-Mental Health; WJC; ETA 3 p.m.

Bill Cloud, UNC-

Chapel Hill


Worth

the

space?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Worth

the

space?

In this case, a table

presents the information

more clearly

and allows us to add a

crucial figure: the electoral

votes available in

each state.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Be wary of pie charts

• They do a poor job

in ranking

proportions.

• The numbers and

the slices can be

hard to connect.

• The slices get to be

too thin for

nourishment.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


What to do instead?

• Often, simple

tables are best.

• Consider the

cake chart.

• Shares are more clear.

• Rank ordering is simpler.

But: What about the

number of accidents?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Car safety experts shift focus to side impact

As highway deaths have declined, the share of deaths blamed on side impact

crashes has risen.

Front Impact

Other

Side Impact

Car fatalities, by direction of

impact – 1980-2001

Driver deaths in cars 1-3

years old, per million cars

registered

86

(52%)

36

(22%)

42

(26%)

A lot more

information in

the same space.

62

(53%) 41

(46%)

18(15%)

14(17%)

37

(32%)

32

(37%)

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


A Clear Comparison

But can

the

graph

show

more?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Accounting for the change in population

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Linear deception?

Does something look

wrong here?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Linear deception?

Why are injuries rising and

deaths falling?

1. Deaths are reported

deaths; accident figures

are estimates, based on a

survey of 100 emergency

rooms.

2. CPSC estimates actual

deaths at figures higher

than the reported deaths.

Should chart use those

numbers?

3. Should we include the

2004 figures at all?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Linear deception

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Linear deception

Is the footnote

enough here?

Shouldn’t we

do something

else to show

readers that

the ’04 figures

are for part of

a year?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Here, change is clearly labeled

• But should

we graph

such a

tentative

number?

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Linear deception

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Out of?

For perspective, we

should be told how

many people are

employed in each

office and in the state

as a whole.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Out of?

Again, we need

the totals for the

district and for

each school to

understand the

scope of the

problem.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Out of?

With the recent round of corporate layoffs in the news, we remind everyone to

include what percentage of the work force the cutbacks represent. This adds

the needed context.

Saying, for example, that Boeing will lay off 750 employees in Southern

California after losing a lucrative military-satellite contract leaves the

reader wondering how many will remain on the job. For large conglomerates,

it is most useful to give the percentage of the work force of the unit involved.

— Paul Martin, stylebook editor,

Wall Street Journal


One copy editor’s list

No. 1 (a tie).

• A. Spelling, grammar and style. Graphics come to us

with gajillions of these mistakes.

• B. Reporters and/or their editors, 95% of the time, never

see the graphics that accompany their stories.

2. Fonts and type sizes are inconsistent within their

categories.

3. Factual inaccuracies and/or information in the graphic and

the story don’t match.

4. Incomplete or irrelevant information.

5. The method for compiling the info differs from how it is

compiled in the story--centimeters in the graphic, inches in

the story.

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill


Editing graphics

Bill Cloud

University of North Carolina

at Chapel Hill


Find the error(s) in each of these graphics.

1. 1.

2.

3.

4.

A Keen Eye on Graphics

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill

2012 New Orleans Convention


5.

6.

7.

8.

A Keen Eye on Graphics

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill

2012 New Orleans Convention


9. 10.

11.

A Keen Eye on Graphics

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill

2012 New Orleans Convention


12.

13.

A Keen Eye on Graphics

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill

2012 New Orleans Convention


14.

15.

16.

A Keen Eye on Graphics

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill

2012 New Orleans Convention


Hold up your hand when you spot a mistake. There are many.

A Keen Eye on Graphics

Bill Cloud, UNC-Chapel Hill

2012 New Orleans Convention

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