Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oh, Those Centuries

We've had an unwinter this year in Minnesota, so that's newsworthy, I guess. The Pioneer Press's story on Saturday included this graph of the snowiest and least snowy winters on record. Last year was the fourth snowiest, this year the fifth-least snowy:

Bar graph with ranged year labels for winters below the bars
The thing I noticed about the graph was the labels below the bars. The 20th century years after 1912 require only two digits, while the 19th and 21st century years (and 1901-02) have four digits for the first year in each set of two.

Obviously, they did it this way to differentiate 1894 from 1994 and 1901 from 2001. But still, it seems a bit odd.

The layout had already allowed enough space for six digits and a hyphen, turned sideways, so why not set all of the year ranges that way? Switching the orientations back and forth makes it harder to read and calls extra attention to the five year ranges that are set sideways.

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