Do’s and Dont’s for telling stories with data

Dec. 7, 2018

Data journalism is moving into the newsroom like never before. The skills to find stories with numbers is no small feat. To help you avoid some basic mistakes, let’s take a look at some best practices around communicating stories with your own data.

Do…

- Start with the big picture. Frame all of your data within a bigger picture. This makes everything easier for your audience to understand and gives you a strong start to your story.
- Show context. The more context you provide, both visual and verbal, the less likely your audience will be to jump to mistaken conclusions.
- Highlight hidden insights. Many of the most important insights in your data will be hidden below the surface. Highlight these and contrast them with the overall metrics to make a powerful story.
 

Don’t…

- Manipulate scale. Be clear about the scale of data and the units, and be weary of charts with multiple axes. 
- Cherry pick data. Include the full breadth of data in your communications, not just the data points that help make your case.
- Be inconsistent. Use the same colors, labels and conventions across all the statements and visualizations in your story. 
 

Want to find more about telling stories with charts and graphs? Sign up for Infotimes free course and learn the basics of data journalism.