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CH 4  UsE the same scales


Proper visual comparison requires the usage of identical scales for identical measure units, or – if this is not possible – a clear indication of the difference. If possible, a consistent scaling concept should be used for the complete report or presentation material.


CH 4.1  Use identical scale for the same unit

If presenting more than one chart of the same unit on one page, use the identical scale for these charts, see figure SUCCESS rule CH 4.1.


CH 4.2  Size charts to given data

Using identical scales in multiple charts can be demanding if the values in the charts differ by orders of magnitude. A good solution is adapting the chart size to the given data, see figure SUCCESS rule CH 4.2.


CH 4.3  Use scaling indicators if necessary

There are several ways to overcome challenging scaling problems. Scaling indicators, such as scaling lines and scaling areas indicating the same numerical height (typically a power of 10) in all charts are helpful to assist in comparing multiple charts (of the same unit) with different scales, see figure SUCCESS rule CH 4.3.

IBCS suggest a semantic design for scaling lines and scaling areas, see SUCCESS rule UN 5.2 "Unify scaling indicators".


CH 4.4  Use outlier indicators if necessary

Certain values that are very big in comparison to other values are called outliers. If an outlier is not important for business, e.g. a big relative variance of a small value, then it is not appropriate to scale the whole chart to this outlier. Therefore, use outlier indicators for unimportant outliers, see figure SUCCESS rule CH 4.4.


IBCS suggest a semantic design for outlier indicators, see SUCCESS rule UN 5.3 "Unify outlier indicators".



CH 4.5  Magnifying glasses

Another way to assist in scaling problems is to use "magnifying glasses" for zooming in on a part of a chart with a bigger scale. Use an appropriate visualization element to mark the part of a chart to be zoomed in and to link it to a second chart displaying the zoomed part on a bigger scale.



© 2015 IBCS Association. Except where otherwise noted licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 International.