By Gregor Aisch, visualization architect and interactive news developer, based on his workshop, Data visualisation, maps and timelines on a shoestring. The workshop is part of the School of Data Journalism 2013 at the International Journalism Festival.
This tutorial goes through the basic process of creating simple, embeddable charts using Datawrapper.
Preparing the Dataset
- Go to the Eurostat website and download the dataset Unemployment rate by sex and age groups – monthly average as Excel spreadsheet. You can also directly download the file from here.
- We now need to clean the spreadsheet. Make a copy the active sheet to keep the original sheet for reference. Now remove the header and footer rows so that GEO/TIME is stored in the first cell (A1).
- It's a good idea to limit the number of shown entries to something around ten or fiveteen, since otherwise the chart would be cluttered up too much. Our story will be about how Europe is divided according to the unemployment rate, so I decided to remove anything but the top-3 and bottom-3 countries plus some reference countries of interest in between. The final dataset contains the countries: Greece, Spain, Croatia, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, France, United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Germany.
- Let's also try to keep the labels short. For Germany we can remove the appendix "(until 1990 former territory of the FRG)", since it wouldn't fit in out chart.
- This is how the final dataset looks like in OpenOffice Calc
Loading the Data into Datawrapper
- Now, to load the dataset into Datawrapper you can simply copy and paste it. In your spreadsheet software look for the Select All function (e.g. Edit > Select All in OpenOffice).
- Copy the data into the clipboard by either selecting Edit > Copy from the menu or pressing Ctrl + C (for Copy) on your keyboard.
- Go to datawrapper.de and click the link Create A New Chart. You can do this either being logged in or as guest. If you create the chart as guest, you can add it to your collection later by signing up for free.
- Now paste the data into the big text area in Datawrapper. Click Upload and continue to proceed to the next step.
Check and Describe the Data
- Check if the data has been recognized correctly. Things to check for are the number format (in our example the decimal separator , has been replaced with .). Also check wether the row and column headers have been recognized.
- Change number format to one decimals after point to ensure the data is formatted according to your selected language (e.g. decimal comma for France).
- Now provide information about the data source. The data has been published by Eurostat. Provide the link to the dataset as well. This information will be displayed along with the published charts, so readers can trace back the path to the source themselves.
- Click Visualize to proceed to the next step.
Selecting a Visualization
- Time series are best represented using line charts, so click on the icon for line chart to select this visualization.
- Give the chart a title that explains both what the readers are seeing in the chart and why they should care about it. A title like "Youth unemployment rates in Europe" only answers half of the question. A better title would be"Youth unemployment divides Europe" or "Youth unemployment on record high in Greece and Spain"
- In the introduction line we should clarify what exactly is shown in the chart. Click Introduction and type "Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates of under 25 aged". Of course you can also provide more details about the story.
- Now highlight the data series that are most important for telling the story. The idea is to let one or two countries really pop out of the chart, and attract the readers attention immediately. Click Highlight and select Greece and Spain from the list. You might also want to include your own country for reference.
- Activate direct labeling to make it easier to read the chart. Also, since our data is already widely distributed, we can force the extension of the vertical axis to the zero-baseline.
- We can let the colors support the story by choosing appropriate colors. First, click on the orange field to select it as base color. Then click on define custom colors and pick red for high unemployment countries Greece and Spain. For countries with low youth unemployment such as Germany, Norway and Austria we can pick a green, or even better, a blue tone (to respect the color blind). Now the resulting chart should look like this:
- Click Publish to proceed to the last step.
Publishing the Visualization
- Now a copy of the chart is being pushed to the content delivery network Amazon S3, which ensures that it loads fast under high traffic.
- Meanwhile you can already copy the embed code and paste it into your newsrooms CMS to include it in the related news article – just like you would do with a Youtube video.
Further tutorials can be found on the Datawrapper website.
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