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Trellis display

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Abstract Displaying data with three or more dimensions effectively on a two‐dimensional paper or screen is not an easy task. Commonly used graphs such as pie charts and bar graphs do not allow for easy comparisons across all variables. This article discusses trellis display, a framework for the visualization of data through multiple panels organized in rows, columns, and pages. Each panel displays some of the variables with the values of the other variables held fixed. We demonstrate the effectiveness of trellis display by comparing identical sets of data first using traditional pie charts or bar graphs and then using trellis display. In all cases, the trellis figures show characteristics of the data more clearly than the more common graphs do. We discuss additional advantages of trellis display such as the ability of trellis figures to distinguish variables without the use of color. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article is categorized under: Statistical and Graphical Methods of Data Analysis > Statistical Graphics and Visualization

Four variables are given in this figure: the number of degrees awarded, the discipline, the continent, and the year the degree was awarded. This figure is a combination of a grouped and a stacked bar chart; the years are grouped and the disciplines are stacked. (Courtesy of National Science Foundation).

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This figure shows who is gaining and who is losing market share much more clearly than does Figure 6 (Reprinted with permission from Ref 3. Copyright 2005 Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

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Multiple pie charts are used to show the car production for five countries and 4 years (Reprinted with permission from Ref 5. Copyright 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

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The Data of Figure 4 is redrawn using trellis display. This makes the data much easier to understand.

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This is an example of a three‐dimensional bar chart drawn using Excel 2003. It has a number of perceptual problems: it is difficult to see the bars in the back rows, bars of the same height do not appear to be the same height due to the perspective in the figure, and bars appear shorter than their value.

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Different arrangements of the data facilitate different comparisons. In this figure, it is easier to compare the degrees awarded in different continents for a specific discipline, whereas in Figure 2, it is easier to compare the disciplines for a specific continent.

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This figure has the same data as Figure 1, this time in a trellis display. Many characteristics of the data are easier to detect here.

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