An Evaluation of the Impact of Visual Embellishments in Bar Charts


As data visualization becomes further intertwined with the field of graphic design and information graphics, small graphical alterations are made to many common chart formats. Despite the growing prevalence of these embellishments, their effects on communication of the charts’ data is unknown. From an overview of the design space, we have outlined some of the common embellishments that are made to bar charts. We have studied the effects of these chart embellishments on the communication of the charts’ data through a series of user studies on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. The results of these studies lead to a better understanding of how each chart type is perceived, and help provide guiding principles for the graphic design of charts.

Study materials and data are available on github
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Drew Skau, Lane Harrison, Robert Kosara,
An Evaluation of the Impact of Visual Embellishments in Bar Charts,
Computer Graphics Forum (Proceedings EuroVis), vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 221–230, 2015.