“I love you.” How many?

Using color to create subgroups

It’s Valentine’s Day! You know, that day that wants us to celebrate romantic love. A great day to look back at an article by Mona Chalabi that she wrote in 2015, during her time at FiveThirtyEight: “I Love You, You Love Me, We’ve Probably Never Said That To More Than Three”. In it, she visualizes the following data:

Mona doesn’t use donut charts to do show the data, but a split bar chart. (Do visit the original article to see it!) I remember staring at it for a long time. I liked the histogram feel, a lot. But I wondered how the data would look like in a chart type that makes me see which share of the surveyed people in a certain age group had said “I love you” to someone (instead of reading it). So I created some very colorful donut charts.

Chart Choices

The chart above uses 11 different pie slices. Which is crazy! We learned to not do that in pie & donut charts. (I myself urged you to avoid it!) In the chart above, I tried to make it work, anyway:

With the help of saturated vs light colors (and our highlight feature), I created two visual “subgroups” in each age group. (At least this was the idea. You’re very welcome to tell me that I failed and/or suggest a better idea!) The first subgroup consists of the two slices, people who have said "I love you" to none and to one partner. And the second subgroup shows the rest of the people. We can easily compare the first and the second group – and we can still compare the none-sayers in each age group with each other, or the ones who said “I love you” to more than 10 partners.


I hope you all have (had) a great day! If you don’t know Mona’s work yet, make sure to follow her on Twitter or Instagram. Her style is crazy and her work important and it would make me happy if I could introduce one or two of you to it. I’ll see you next week!

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