Moving the title into the chart

As promised last week, this week’s Weekly Chart is another simple one: It’s a chart that my coworker Gregor copied in Datawrapper from this infographic by Jason Treat for the National Geographic, and it shows the dramatic increase in global production of plastic:

We can see that plastic production has roughly doubled every fifteen years. In 2015, 400 million tons of plastic were produced, while in 2000, it was only 227 million tons. As the chart tells us, 44% of all the plastic ever produced until 2015 was produced between 2000 and 2015. And this Bloomberg article from yesterday states that “the world has produced more than 8 billion metric tons since the 1950s” (which is “four mountains the size of Everest”).

Chart choices

This chart doesn’t look like your typical Datawrapper chart. First, the headline is not above the chart but feels more integrated. Gregor hid the title and instead used the annotation feature. Like in Jason’s original chart, he then used part of the title as a label for the data elements: “Nearly half of all plastic ever manufactured” is written in the same color as the part of the area chart that actually shows half of all plastic ever manufactured. Smart. And a great reminder of how much more readable we can make a chart when we treat the text as important as our data elements.

This blue highlighted part of the area is another reason why I find this chart so well-designed. You’ve probably never seen this before in a Datawrapper chart, either. It’s possible to use “highlight ranges”, but it’s not possible yet to color a part of the area charts directly. Gregor created two data columns (= two areas) to make this effect possible. Hover over the chart at the top and click on “Edit this chart” to see how the data looks like.


The Netzwerk Recherche conference is starting tomorrow in Hamburg, which I would confidently call the most fun Journalism conference in Germany. I’m looking forward to it! (And I’ll give a talk.) At the same time, SRCCON – the most fun Journalism conference in the US – is happening in Minneapolis. Some of the talks there will be transcribed, so you can follow along. I’ll see you next week!

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