Why adding text labels to graph lines, when you can build graph lines using text labels? On microtext lines
Line charts are a staple of data visualization. They’ve existed at least since William Playfair and possibly earlier. Like many charts, they can be very powerful and also have their limitations. One limitation is the number of lines that can be displayed. One line works well: you can see trend, volatility, highs, lows, reversals. Two lines provides opportunity for comparison. 5 lines might be getting crowded. 10 lines and you’re starting to run out of colors. But what if the task is to compare across a peer group of 30 or 40 items? Lines get jumbled, there aren’t enough discrete colors, legends can’t clearly distinguish between them. Consider this example looking at unemployment across 37 countries from the OECD: which country had the lowest unemployment in 2010?
Tooltips are an obvious way to solve this, but tooltips have problems – they are much slower than just shifing visual attention…
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Try a heat map representation.
Heatmaps are cool but serve different purposes than line charts