Visualizing A Single Number

Tim Bock shows a dozen methods for visualizing a single number:

There are a number of situations in which it can be advantageous to create a visualization to represent a single number:

  • To communicate with less numerate viewers/readers;

  • Infographics and dashboards commonly use one important number;

  • To attract the attention of distracted or busy viewers/readers;

  • To add some humanity or “color”, to create an emotional connection;

  • Or to increase the redundancy of the presentation (see Improve the Quality of Data Visualizations Using Redundancy).

To a great extent, my favorite is the first.  There are good cases for many of the others—primarily the shock value of the uncountable pictogram—but typically, the best visualization is simple.

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