Chartjunk

Edward Tufte

Chartjunk refers to all visual elements in charts and graphs that are not necessary to comprehend the information represented on the graph, or that distract the viewer from this information. Examples of unnecessary elements which might be called chartjunk include heavy or dark grid lines, unnecessary text or inappropriately complex typefaces, ornamented chart axes and display frames, pictures or icons within data graphs, ornamental shading and unnecessary dimensions.

Another kind of chartjunk skews the depiction and makes it difficult to understand the real data being displayed. Examples of this type include items depicted out of scale to one another, noisy backgrounds making comparison between elements difficult in a chart or graph, and 3-D simulations in line and bar charts.  The term was coined by American statistician Edward Tufte in his 1983.

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