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Consistency is Essential

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism produces a less than excellent graph

Readers are often in a hurry and they appreciate the use of graphics to communicate quickly. Graphic artists must be careful to not mislead a reader who does not have the time to carefully scrutinize and interpret a simple graph. The problem with this pie chart is that a quick glance creates the impression that the Kindle Fire has a market share of 21%. A more careful inspection reveals that the correct value is about 10%.

Most readers will assume that all the callouts in a single pie chart will refer to the whole pie (100%). In this pie chart the 21% callout refers to the 48% slice. This misleads the reader. Don’t do this!

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