My day job is working as a technical writer for a software company, specifically one that works with mapping software. A coworker sent me this today:
These maps are wondrously hilarious examples of what NOT to do with your graphics, many of which are, disturbingly, from professional news organizations that are supposedly presenting accurate, factual information. There are definitely some lessons here, and some questions you can ask yourself before adding a graphic to a document or releasing it to the public.
- Is the graphic necessary? Superbowl winners by country is, to put it mildly, a bit extraneous.
- Is the graphic easily understandable by readers? Shades of blue may look pretty, but if the shades are too close to differentiate, the graphic is rendered useless.
- Did you do a final proof of the finished product? Any transition to a different medium has small differences that threaten the aesthetic of the work, which can potentially have an unprofessional result. A shift that renders your graphics entirely unreadable is probably worth noticing and fixing.
- Did you FACT CHECK? If you’re going to use ANY piece of information, text or graphic, you need to be accurate to avoid looking ridiculous. This includes ensuring that the information you are using is up-to-date.
That said, as my coworker pointed out, the wine-to-snow correlation in the South may not be as irrelevant as the article makes it seem!