Edward Tufte, a luminary in the world of information visualization, popularized a wonderful concept:

Data-Ink Ratio

The Data-to-Ink Ratio of a chart summarizes the amount of ink on the page that represents data, versus how much does not – and it can usually be removed.

The example above doesn’t necessarily depict right or wrong approaches to making a chart. It shows one method of deleting graphical elements that don’t contribute to the illumination of data. These are sometimes called “chart junk”, and it can obscure or even distort data.

Usually that means taking away default decorations that distract, bringing into sharper focus the elements that matter.

What results is more whitespace, making clear visuals that allow the viewer to process and compare relevant information accurately and without unnecessary effort or misunderstanding.

Do you have charts that need sharpening?