Data visualisation and storytelling

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(Ar)row row row your plot 🏹

You can now create interactive animated arrow plots to show the direction of change on a scatter chart or dot plot

Our scatter template has long been much more than a tool for making scatter plots, and we’ve recently added another new feature. So in addition to box plots, bubble charts, dot plots and Hans Rosling charts, you can now use it to make arrow plots.

What are arrow plots?

Arrow plots are connected dot plots with an arrow head on each line to highlight the direction of a change. They’re most often used to show a change in a value over time.

For a simple example, take this chart, which shows the change in overall vote share for some of the UK’s main political parties, between the 2015 and 2017 general elections. It would make sense as a dot plot, but the arrows make it much clearer which parties’ vote share increased and which decreased.

Create an arrow plot »

You can also make more complicated arrow plots, which connect dozens of dots across two axes. The chart below shows the differing paths of development for each of the BRICS countries since 1960. Try clicking the arrow above the chart to see lines being added and removed in a Flourish story.

Create an arrow plot »

How to make an arrow plot

Like all Flourish templates, making an arrow plot is as simple as uploading a spreadsheet and tweaking some settings.

Probably the quickest option is to open the “Arrow plot” starting point from the template chooser and replace the data. But to help explain what’s going on, here’s how to do it starting from scratch:

  • Create a visualization with the Scatter template.

  • In the column settings next to the data sheet, set “Series (connect with line)” to be a column containing repeated names or categories. You’ll get one line for each name or category.

  • Once that column is set, you’ll see a “Lines & arrows” section in the editor settings panel. In here, make sure lines are enabled and then switch on the option to show arrowheads on the lines.

  • Finally, check the order. Lines are drawn between data points in the order they appear in the spreadsheet, with the arrow head on the final point. So if you’re lines aren’t running correctly, simply sort your sheet (e.g. by a year column) to make sure the data points are ordered correctly.

Make an arrow plot of your own »