7 thoughts on “Visualize Data with Shapes on a Map

  1. David: That’s what I thought but since the purpose of the post was to focus on how to show patterns on a map I didn’t spend any time exploring the causes underlying any of the patterns. :)

    Kevin: Thanks.

  2. The trouble with maps and charts done like this is that they exhibit all the problems of 3-D charts with few of the benefits of maps. Visualization experts would argue that the gains from geographic mapping are swamped by the problems of the 3-D chart type. In some cases careful design of the specific map and chart can minimize the problem, but the effort required is not proportionate to the benefit.

    Two suggestions:
    1 Use excel to colour the shapes on the map rather than add charts. Heatmap style maps are usually easy to interpret (but suffer from comparability problems when large and small states are compared).

    2 Build an interactive map linked to a table (and perhaps make the table sortable) so a user can see a simple table where comparison is easy but when they click on a specific state they also get the geography highlighted in the map.

  3. I just finished my first Europe “heatmap” in excel :) Thanks for the links and tips you shared in the last couple of months! By the way it is often advisable to use a logarithmic scale when creating choropleth maps.

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