When Bad Graphs Happen to Good Papers


For those of us who assist faculty or students in their empirical research endeavors , I thought I would highlight a resource that we can share with them to prevent bad graphs from happening to good papers.

Legal Writing: Getting it Right and Getting it Written” (5th ed. Thomson West 2010) by Mary Barnard Ray and Jill J. Ramsfield, is likely already part of your collection of legal writing texts. However, one part of the book you may not have known about is the advice given on how to use graphics and which form is most appropriate to use (pages 174-184). Specifically, the authors provide pointers on good graph design and when it’s better to stick the graphs at the end as an appendix rather than embedding them within the document. They also provide clarification on the proper uses of pie charts, bar graphs, stacked bar graphs or side-by-side bar graphs, line graphs, and tables.

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