I was going to write about this the other day, but so horrifying was the experience, so psychologically scarring was the image, that I fell into a kind of post-traumatic funk from which I have only just recovered this morning.

The Qld Liberal/National Party recently released an economic document which you can see over here (the pdf download link is a big button on the right of that page).

It’s your usual political document – a big bag of clichés surrounded by pics of working people in hardhats and families with children (!!)

But nestled in the document toward the end is a single chart, although that’s probably a bit of a grievous overstatement. It isn’t so much a “chart” in as much as it’s a data representation so grotesque that one has to consciously fight off the urge to gouge out ones eyeballs with a teaspoon.

Not only did it break every known rule of data presentation, I’m sure it broke rules that have yet to be written. Below is a high quality capture of the crime in question – just click the picture to expand it to its exact replication in the document at 100% zoom.

My eyes, my eyes!

It’s blurry, it has a completely pointless third dimension, the background is grey, the bars are floating, the Y axis has percentage values to two completely redundant decimal places and the angle that the chart sits because of its third dimension makes it look like it’s folded when sitting next to the legend, as if it were some piece of weird graph origami.

But worst of all – it’s completely and utterly unreadable! The point of a chart is to graphically visualise data so that it can be more easily read and absorbed by the brain than a simple table. Good charts facilitate the mind into absorbing data patterns and relationships that might not be so easily spotted if represented numerically.

This… this… this crime against Excel looks like someone thought it would be cool and trendy to put it on an angle – somehow adding a dose of modernity to an otherwise banal document whose cliché’s belong in museum.

I’ve seen Excel abused to the point where therapy sessions have been the outcome, but never have I seen a chartcrime this egregious in a political document.

Ur Doin it Wrong!!

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