Data giraffe is sometimes a feature, not a problem

I wrote about data giraffes two weeks ago. Usually, “data giraffes” are a problem and we need to work hard in order to solve it. Sometimes, they are a useful feature. Take a look at this NYT front page that shows the number of new unemployment applications in the United States over the time

And this is the pseudochartchart version of the same data

Credits: I’ve found these examples on Stott Berkun’s page.

An interesting solution of the data giraffe problem

Photo by Pixabay on

A data giraffe is a situation where a very prominent data point shades everything else. I learned this term from a post by Pini Yakuel and immediately liked it a lot.

Taken from
Taken from

Dealing with data giraffes is hard, especially when dealing with bar charts. Today I saw one interesting approach to this problem

Katherine S. Rowell is a co-funder of a Boston firm that specializes in data visualization. In December, she published a post dedicated to one of the most popular but also most abused graph types, the bar charts. One of the examples in her post demonstrates a nice treatment of data giraffes

In this example, Katherine draws the graph twice. The zoomed-out version shows the giraffes in all their glory, while the zoomed-in one gives the spotlight to the foxes, hyenas, and mice.
Also, note how these graphs respect the rules that every bar chart has to include the zero.