When infographics go wrong…

Thanks to Understanding Uncertainty for pointing out this howler (reproduced below, the original link is here).

Taken from the January 4 edition of The Times newspaper, this infographic seeks to explain the history of VAT (Value Added Tax) rates in Britain for the last 25 years (or so). A great idea for an infographic: lots of data, a complicated issue – it is the perfect combination for an easy retelling in visual form. If only they could have got it right.

I’m not a stats or maths whiz, but even I know that 10% is half of 20%, not a quarter as represented here. And 5% certainly isn’t 1/4 of 8%. This careless infographic is undeniably eye-catching, but when this misleading, surely it is a better idea to just put it in a simple form instead?

The lesson to learn from this is: check, double check and triple check your maths when using data and numbers in your infographic and be sensible when plotting which visuals will look best.



About Helly

I am a Magazine Journalism MA Student at City University and a freelance journalist. I like period dramas, telly, tea and cake. Oh, I do love cake. Join me for a natter about the box.
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