We make thousands of charts a year at Quartz, and when we receive complaints about them, it’s usually that the y-axis doesn’t start at zero.
Acquisition rumors light a fire under BlackBerry’s stock. ▻http://t.co/39RnQ278v9 pic.twitter.com/4YKxCMGvM5
— Quartz (@qz) January 14, 2015
@qz Hey……where did that zero-point on the Y axis go, folks?
— Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) January 14, 2015
Yahoo’s share price today $YHOO pic.twitter.com/yxer3qWeea
— John McDuling (@jmcduling) May 19, 2015
@jmcduling @qz nice y axis
— Giulio Fagiolini (@GiulioFagiolini) May 19, 2015
I delight in LinkedIn’s failures as much as the next guy but Y axis’ should start from 0 @qz ▻http://t.co/eE6DqAPGhj pic.twitter.com/pZUJTHzzqK
— Not An Endorsement (@drldcsta) April 30, 2015
Their point is that truncating the y-axis, as we often do in line charts, exaggerates what the data really say. Some people consider it a maxim that the y-axis should always be zeroed. They think to do otherwise amounts to lying.
But these complaints are wrong.