Choropleth Maps

Keeping with maps, they can be useful, but all too often people fall back upon them because it is a quick and easy way of displaying data for geographic entities. This graphic from the New York Times on ADHD is not terribly complex, but it uses a map effectively.

The article discusses how ADHD rates among states vary, but are still higher in the South. The map supports that argument. Consider how it would be different if every other state were darkened to a different shade of purple. There would be neither rhyme nor reason as to why the map was being used.

A map well done
A map well done

A subtle point worth noting is that only the states falling into the highest bin are labelled. Those are the states that best support the story. The remainder of the states are left unlabelled so as not to distract from the overall piece.

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.

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