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Good and Not So Good Ideas of chart design – Multi Axes

Author:
Date:
March 2, 2015
Category:
Chart Polish, Design Approaches

Not A Good Idea: Keeping all datasets of different scales within a single axis can cause issues when there’s wide gap between the values. For example in an auto scaled chart where the data values of the blue line are between 377 to 958, it can be hard to accurately read the lower values of the green line which are between 2 to 7.


axis_bad_line

Another idea that can be just as confusing, is to have two or more datasets mapped to either the left or right axis. This makes it difficult to determine which axis the lines belong to.

axis_bad_line2

A Good Idea: A cleaner approach would be to use multiple axis to make it easier to read several different datasets. Here each of the datasets have their own y axis. Each of the Y axis autoscales with the left labels changing accordingly. Additionally, having a line symbol at each data point makes it easier to differentiate between two that at first glance appear to be the same. Finally, having a LineLabel, in this case above the data point also helps to quickly read the value.

axis_good_line

Using NetCharts Designer, you can add a stacked multiple axes to your chart in just a couple of steps.

Here’s how:

  1. In the Presentation tab, click to expand Axes.
  2.  

    line_axis1

  3. Click to highlight Left Axes.
  4.  

  5. Click the New Axis button to add a second Axes.
  6.  
    line_axis2
     

  7. To have the new second axes stacked above the bottom one, make sure to leave the Stack Multiple Axes checkbutton checked.

 

The multiple axes parameter is a powerful feature which allows you to simplify charts and also build complex chart types. For example, see the Pediatric Growth Chart example which demonstrates an interesting approach of how to use multiple axes.

Stay tuned for more tips on design approaches! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at support@visualmining.com.

 

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