TELLING DATA STORIES

How can data stories be told using creative narratives?

 

 It can seem overwhelming to build a data story if you haven’t done it before. The questions in this section are designed to help teams and individuals to define goals and consider options.

Develop your narrative at the beginning: Much like research has a hypothesis to test from the start, it’s useful to spend the first stages of a project outlining the audience and narrative. This will help keep the data collection focused and time to a minimum.

HOW TO PLAN AND FRAME A DATA STORY

1

WHAT IS THE POINT?

What is it that we want the audience to understand and why?

Write a summary of your story with the main points that you want it to cover, using bullet points.

2

WORKING OUTWARDS FROM DATA:

be clear about what the data tell you. Consider whether the data need to be simplified, contextualised or completed with other data to make our point. You will need evidence to draw on in your story. Evidence may come from information or quotes you find from another news story, a report, a book or an interview.

3

DESIGNING OUR INFORMATION:
how will we bring our story together in rough data? How can we frame it in succinct and compelling ways without misleading or over-generalising?

4

FINDING VISUAL STORIES:
what visual devices can be used to present the information in an engaging way? How can the visual design help organise and give meaning to the data?

LEARNING TO NOTICE OF A DATA STORY IS PUT TOGETHER

These questions can help anyone who is new to thinking about data visualisations which seek to tell a story. Take a look at websites like Information is Beautiful, and pick one graphic to think about. Ask yourself:

  • What datasets have been used in this example?
  • How are the data presented?
  • What is the story this graphic is trying to tell?
  • What are the data and visual representations trying to say? Summarise it in just one sentence, like you would in a tweet.
  • Is the story told well in your view?
  • What elements best support the story?
  • Are there extraneous pieces that don’t help the story along?
  • Are there pieces that actively distract from the main point or contradict it?