Unnecessary combined chart

The National Institute of Health tracks the number of deaths from opioids. The statistics are discouraging.

It is relatively common to use a combined bar and line graph when there are two vertical axes with differing scales. This example is more puzzling. A stacked bar graph or a line graph with 3 lines would convey the data in a more standard way.

It is not clear that the sex curves are even needed. There appears to be a consistent 60-40 split that could just be mentioned in the text.

The title and subtitle could be rewritten to point out that there has been a 2.8x increase from 2002 to 2015.


A recent article in The Economist is titled Women alone are driving a recovery in workforce participation. An accompanying graph is suggestive but far too cluttered.

Long point labels usually don’t work. A horizontal bar or a dot graph would work well for the long category names. Unfortunately neither is available in Excel. This graph provides the idea.

The evidence is a bit more nuanced. The one category dominated by women had the largest growth. The three categories dominated by men had the smallest growth. The more mixed categories had mixed growth.