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Why Graph Text Should Be Horizontal

Stephanie Evergreen explains why you don’t want diagonal or vertical text in your charts:

In languages based on the Latin alphabet, we read horizontally, from left to right. Reading on a diagonal produces cramped necks. Reading vertical text is just not going to happen. So, as much as possible, the text in our graphs should be horizontal.

Let’s walk through a demo. I was trying to combat my sense of hopelessness about the world by exploring the latest dataviz related to the Sustainable Development Goals (don’t we all?). The vast majority of their viz is pretty awesome, especially given how complicated the data can be. I saw this graph about how few developing countries have representation on international development councils.

Watch as Stephanie starts with a column chart with diagonal (and cut-off) text and converts it to a visual which is much easier to read.