A simple line plot

US airlines have higher fares than European ones. US airlines provide poorer service than European ones. The money goes to profits. The enabling factor is lack of competition. [The Economist April 2017]

Often a simple presentation is best. This line chart shows that dramatic difference in profits and it recent increase.

The Economist uses some conventions that support a clean presentation. The year axis is unlabeled. The vertical variable is identified in a subtitle rather than a vertical axis label. This leads to a compact figure without requiring a sideways label. The character of the chart lines and the wide spacing of the points make a vertical grid unnecessary. The two lines are identified with annotation rather than legend.

The other comparisons in the story are simple pairs of numbers. The Economist has chosen wisely to avoid making these unnecessary bar charts.

Simple line chart

Supermarket shelves are filled with bottled water. And not without reason. The consumption of bottled water now exceeds that of soft drinks. The combination is an impressive quart per day per person. [The Economist March 2017]

Some commentators assert that graphs should always include the full vertical axis going to zero. In this graph it is unnecessary because the message is that bottled water has overtaken soft drinks.

Most graphing software places the vertical axis tick labels to the left by default. Time series graphs in The Economist usually place them on the right, a choice that goes with emphasis on the most recent values. These graphs usually do not have vertical axis labels. Instead the information is included in a subtitle. Possibly this practice supports appearance in the relatively narrow magazine columns.