Thursday, January 23, 2020

An example of how to annotate a visualization, by The Financial Times

The Financial Times visualizes how Britons spend their time at weekends vs. week days, a graphic that is part of a story about how weekend working affects families.

The array of graphs is elegantly designed, as it often happens with the FT, which has developed a massive library of high quality visualizations and even has a column about data journalism. That said, what really does the trick for me is the detailed annotations.

Several members of the FT data and graphics team have repeatedly expressed their belief in the power of the annotation layer. John Burn-Murdoch, for instance, has said: “I and my colleagues here at the FT, we really do think one of the most valuable things we can do as data visualization practitioners is add this expert annotation layer.” I agree. Explanatory visualizations shouldn't consist of visualizing data alone, but also of adding words to put the data in context, highlight the most relevant facts, or dispel possible misinterpretations.