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Coloring Tables to Quickly Communicate

NY Times uses color to clarify a large table

I recently wrote that tables can be a poor choice for showing comparisons, but when the amount of data grows large a chart can become a confusing mass of symbols. In this tabular presentation the NY Times takes a different approach by coloring table cells to show each column’s quintiles (5ths) and sorting the list by the overall score. The top two quintiles are shades of silver and the bottom three quintiles are shades of red. The overall color of the table shifts from silver to red as scores decline from top to bottom and deviations from the overall trend are easy to spot as opposing colors.

Social Justice in the OECD (Bertelsmann Stiftung)

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