Chart Critique- New Marriage rate by Age

The most important purpose of graphs and charts is to read the gathered information or data easily with the help of a virtual graphic. These graphs are very useful in conveying the data which includes hundreds and thousands of numbers and various variables in just one graph/chart. If a chart is presented in a smart way it can be the most powerful tool to reach the masses effortlessly. If any given information is presented in graphs/charts, it has more impact on people than reading a whole article, report or paper about it. That is why graphs/charts are a popular choice in any kind of media articles and research reports because they help elucidate data in a much simpler way. However, sometimes the chart is not presented in a way which can be easily readable and interpretable. That can lead to misinformation regarding the results of the research as well as decreased interest in particular research.


For instance,




The above chart depicts the number of newly married adults per 1000 marriage eligible adults for years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 for different age groups. This is an elaborate chart which has information for 5 years and for all the adult age groups. Any person who is interested in gathering all the information about this research can read the chart very easily. Bar graph with various color shades helps in distinguishing the years for which the data is presented. Also, it provides total number of adults per 1000 marriage eligible adults to summarize the whole research. By merely looking at the chart one can understand if marriage rate increased or decreased with each passing year.

Although, in my opinion there are some drawbacks to this chart which cannot be ignored. Firstly, there needs to be vertical axis which can show the number of adults. Secondly, individuals who are interested in knowing the data for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 cannot interpret the number since vertical axis with numbering on it doesn’t exist. They will have to assume that data in regard to 2008 and 2012 numbers as these are the only ones available. Also, according to me it is critical to round up the number of people for each age group category as individuals cannot be measured in decimal points.

If I was given an opportunity to improve this chart, I will add vertical axis with increment of 5 or 10 number of people to give exact number of people for each age group who are newly married per 1000 marriage eligible adults. It will also be beneficial to interpret the data for years 2009, 2010 and 2011 where the number is not clearly mentioned. I will mention the number for each age group on top of the bar like 2008 and 2012. As mentioned above, I would like to round up the number to give it more readability. With all of these additions, I think it will be easier to interpret the above chart and understand the research topic.

8 thoughts on “Chart Critique- New Marriage rate by Age

  1. I agree with your comments on the axis of the chart listed. A vertical axis would have made it easier to read. This is very important in being able to interpret the data. The chart is visually appealing, and the topic is very interesting. Also, many charts have very small print of the actual data, this size is good. Overall I thought it was a good display of the data.

    1. Thank you. I agree chart is visually appealing. I may makes some changes in basic color scheme, but just by adding vertical axis this chart will be much more interpret-able than this.

  2. Great chart! It does provide a lot of information in one . You can quickly see trends in marriage of age groups for 5 years in one chart. I agree with your suggestions for improvement-all totals will be helpful. The chart size should’ve been increased for the bars to be wide enough to add numbers for 2009-2011. I personally am not a fan of the color scheme used-I am sure there is some research on that somewhere!

    1. Sam,
      Thank you. I agree with you. Colors are dull and not really attractive. I will like to add different popping colors which will make easy distinction.

  3. I agree with your comment about adding a vertical axis. One way to make changes in numbers across time look more dramatic is to (essentially) “zoom in” on the vertical axis so that the reader sees only a very small range. This chart seems to drawing our attention to the fact that marriage rates among young adults declined between 2008 and 2012. However, if the range of the (nonexistant) vertical axis were wider, these changes would not look so dramatic. Also, it’s a narrow range of years. A wider range might show that this decline could be a brief decline during difficult economic years, possibly like other prior time periods, that may pick up again during economic recovery. Graphs and charts can be misleading. I don’t think this one is, but you have to be cognizant of its limitations to interpret it. (Well, that’s really like any form of analysis though!)

    1. Dr H,
      Thank you for adding information about zooming in on vertical axis. You are correct. To see the variation in all the years it is important to zoom in on vertical axis to have the dramatic distinction. Also, if range on vertical axis is large the, difference may not be visually recognizable.

  4. Yes, this chart is a fount of information but it definitely needs some way of reading the actual numbers being represented. I also wonder about the color scheme they chose. I know it’s a bit petty, but it would be quite easy to confuse the colors in the years 2008 and 2009.

    1. Yes Heidi, I felt the same way. They could have used much better color scheme. Just changing the shades doesn’t really make an obvious distinction.

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