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Posts Tagged ‘BNA’

Comparing Decision Making Methods

A graph type rarely seen at BBNA, provides valuable insights

A ROC Plot helps to evaluate the effectiveness of different decision making methods by plotting each method’s correct and incorrect results:

  • True Positive Rate (vertical axis): correct decisions
  • False Positive Rate (horizontal axis): false alarms

Effective methods will cluster along the top and left edge of the graph. The top-left corner corresponds to a perfect score. The 45-degree line is highlighted because this is where the number of true positives equals the number of false positives, in other words a method that plots here is no better than flipping a coin. Those that plot below the 45-degree line are not worth the trouble, they are less effective than simply flipping a coin.

A Tale of Two Illustrations

October 28, 2011 1 comment

If you don’t have a map, all roads look the same.

This blog strives to make BNA’s writers and editors more knowledgeable about the use graphics. Recently we published an insightful analysis about the Federal budget: “Do-Nothing’ Option Would Cut Deficit Fastest.” We got hung up on deciding between two illustrations to accompany the story.

Budget Data Presented as Table

Budget Data Presented as Graphs

A great map to guide us is Stephen Few’s book “Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten.” Few provides us with a succinct guide to making our decision (p. 239)…

When to Use Tables vs. Graphs

Use Tables When
  1. The document will be used to look up individual values.
  2. The document will be used to compare individual values.
  3. Precise values are required.
Use Graphs When
  1. The message is contained in the shape of the values.
  2. The document will be used to reveal relationships among multiple values.

So the answer is to be found in our story. To select between the two illustrations we should look for guidance in what our story is aiming to accomplish. The author sets out the goal at the top of the story…

compare the extent and speed of deficit reduction among the major proposals…

Presenting this data as a table provides our subscribers with little help in seeing the key points of the analysis. A table is just a bunch of numbers, leaving the reader to figure out the relationships on their own. The analysis was about the shape of the values and the relationship among them, a goal that is best accomplished through graphs.

  • The stair steps created by the large bars quickly communicated that the options were arranged from smallest to largest.
  • The pie wedges quickly communicated the absolute size of the deficit relative to GNP.
  • The tilt of the slope graphs quickly communicated the rate of change.
  • The vertical position of the slope graphs quickly communicated the percentage relative to GNP.

Improving BNA’s Graphics: Editor’s Professional Development Needs

June 27, 2011 1 comment

A slideshow

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Showing Not Telling

The purpose of this blog is to inspire visual thinking among BNA staff.

My goal is to contribute to recent efforts to enhance BNA’s visual presence and assist BNA staff in keeping up with changes in our industry. This blog presents examples of how information is displayed visually by BNA and by other publishers. My desire is to inform and assist editors and reporters to explore the possibilities of incorporating visual communication in their analysis and publications.

Info-Graphics (information graphics), are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge that present complex information quickly and clearly. The purpose of incorporating Info-graphics is to enable our clients to gauge the meaning and significance of complex information at a glance.

I invite you to drop in here from time to time to see what is happening. I look forward to your suggestions, comments, and contributions.

— Cordelia Gaffney, Manager, BNA Graphics