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Question about legend design best practice

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#1
E Bettinger

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I'm working on a choropleth map in CartoDB here

 

The buckets for my colors are not of the same size. (They're 0-10%, 10-25%, 25-50%, & 50%+)

But currently, the widths of the color bands in my legend ARE the same size.

Here's my question: SHOULD they be? Or should I redesign the legend so that the color bands for the buckets are roughly proportional to the bucket sizes? (i.e. so that 0-10% is narrower than 25-50%)?

 

I'm torn on this. I don't think I've ever seen a legend with varying color band widths, and it sounds like it might look like a mess. On the other hand, the current set-up seems misleading and non-intuitive. 

 

I'd appreciate your feedback and insight! 

Thanks. 

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#2
David Medeiros

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That's a really interesting question. I think it could work to adjust your legend swatch sizes to match their proportion of the data range, assuming the classifications set up so you get a decent relatively even display. Some data ranges and class breaks would have too many small values crammed into one end of the range and one or two much larger ranges at the end. Yours sound close enough that it would probably be ok.

 

That said, I don't think having equal widths is any deterrent to reading the map correctly. A good alternative to this might be to include both an easy to read equal width legend for color reading, and a single color graphic of the class breaks and data histogram itself.


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#3
tangnar

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If you can't or don't want to change the widths, you could have the label read 50+, or >50 pts, something that would reinforce that all the rest falls into that category. 



#4
hasecbinusr

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I know I'm late to join this conversation, but this is a great question.  I'm curious what outside-the-box ideas others have for this kind of legend.  I'll mock some ideas up and edit this post in a bit.



#5
Matthew Hampton

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I think it's easier for people to understand plain words than relative sizes of legend items that infer size.  For your particular case I would use the same sizes of color bands but use the following text: under 10, 10-25, 25-50, over 50.

 

It's the color that indicates the class but it's the text that defines the classes.  I think using relative sizes of the bands would lead to more confusion and create the need for second legend, and if you need a legend for a legend you probably need to reconsider things.


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