Articles & research papers


The Making Data Meaningful Guides

The Making Data Meaningful guides are intended as a practical tool to help managers, statisticians and media relations officers in statistical organizations use text, tables, charts, maps and other devices to bring statistics to life for non-statisticians.

Part 1: A guide to writing stories about numbers
The first guide provides guidelines and examples on the use of effective writing techniques to make data meaningful.

Part 2: A guide to presenting statistics
The second guide provides guidelines and examples on preparing effective tables, charts and maps, and using other forms of visualizations to make data meaningful. It also offers advice on how to avoid bad or misleading visual presentations.

Part 3: A guide to communicating with the media
The third guide aims to help producers of statistics find the best way to get their message across and to communicate effectively with the media. It contains suggestions, guidelines and examples.

The making data meaningful guides

Sketchnote Army- a Sketchnotes Showcase

Sketchnote Army is dedicated to finding and showcasing sketchnotes and sketchnoters from around the world- from events, conferences, workshops or wherever sketchnotes are captured or created. If you want your sketchnotes to be featured there, you can send your sketchnotes URL and info to the webmaster.

Sketchnote Army

The Sketchnotes Channel at Core77

The Sketchnotes channel allows one to learn more about sketchnotes, including a great overview of a new kind of visual thinking and some basics to get started off.

The Core77 Sketchnotes channel

Charting application alternatives to using Excel

If you are tired of using Excel to create charts and graphs, then you can try these free apps listed below:

  1. JFree Chart– Java chart library that makes it easy for developers to display professional quality charts in their applications
  2. XML/SWF Charts– A simple, yet powerful tool to create attractive charts and graphs from XML data
  3. FusionCharts Free– A flash charting component that can be used to render data-driven & animated charts for web applications and presentations
  4. Timeplot– A DHTML-based widget for plotting time series and overlay time-based events over them (with the same data formats that Timeline supports)
  5. Flare– An ActionScript library for creating visualizations that run in the Adobe Flash Player
  6. Chronoscope– Turn tables into time machines. Embed the widget into web pages
  7. JS Charts– JavaScript based chart generator that requires little or no coding, uses client-side scripting (i.e. performed by your web browser)
  8. ggplot– ggplot is an implementation of the grammar of graphics in R
  9. R– software language and environment for statistical computing and graphics that provides a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, …) and graphical techniques, and is highly extensible.

Lovely charts

Lovely Charts is a free online diagramming application that can be used to create diagrams such as flowcharts, sitemaps, organisation charts, wireframes, amongst others

Lovely charts


PlotKit is a Javascript graph plotting library. It is aimed at web applications that require plotting series of data in modern web browsers. Licensed under the BSD License, you can include it in your free or commercial applications without worrying.

PlotKit requires MochiKit. (1.3 or higher), and supports both HTML Canvas and SVG, along with an emulated canvas for Internet Explorer. It is easily extensible to include other rendering engines, styles and layouts.


JFree Chart

JFreeChart is a free 100% Java chart library that makes it easy for developers to display professional quality charts in their applications.

JFreeChart’s extensive feature set includes:

  • a consistent and well-documented API, supporting a wide range of chart types
  • a flexible design that is easy to extend, and targets both server-side and client-side applications
  • support for many output types, including Swing components, image files (including PNG and JPEG), and vector graphics file formats (including PDF, EPS and SVG)
  • JFreeChart is “open source” or, more specifically, free software. It is distributed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public Licence (LGPL), which permits use in proprietary applications
  • JFree Chart