graphs and charts

Stories at CERN are often based on new physics results, and many of these will be accompanied by one or more graphs. 

Graphs are an excellent way to present lots of data in one place. But it is essential that the reader be given all the information necessary to understand the data presented.

Before publishing a graph or chart, check:

Are all the axes labelled?

- graphs without labels do not mean anything at all. Label your axes.

Would the labels make sense to a non-physicist?

- label your axes, but not with a mathematical symbol that people won't understand. Instead of Δνe, write "rate of formation of electron neutrinos" on the axis.

Could a colour-blind person interpret this graph correctly?

 - if essential information is encoded in colour, ensure it is not a case of contrasting red versus green. If this is already the case and the graph cannot be changed (if it comes ready-made from an experiment, for example) add symbols to remove ambiguity.

Do not use 3D effects

- fancy effects detract from the data; or worse, they can actually mislead the reader (see pie charts). Don't use them.

Less is more. Present only the relevant data, in as clear and uncluttered a manner as possible.

See pie charts


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