Thursday, January 12, 2012

Make Geographic Data Visual

Displaying data in a table can make it challenging to read.  Even when arranged clearly, a table is best for details while a chart is better to provide the big picture. My tongue-in-cheek recommendation is that you should bury bad news in a table and display good news in a chart!  It is difficult to see trends in a table.

The example below uses a schedule of GOP primaries to demonstrate how powerful of a visual display.  I knew that my state (Tennessee) was one of the later primaries, but could not remember when it was scheduled.  When I came across the primary schedule, I immediately felt that the site needed a visual display of the information.

I used I searched "US map" to locate and download a blank map.  I imported the map into Microsoft Paint and used the fill tool to add the appropriate colors to the states.  Finally, I added a legend to help orient viewers to the color scheme.

Blank US Map downloaded from

Finished Map

It only takes a little effort to visually transform data into information.

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