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Posts: 21
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello. The Y axis on a line graph does not necessarily need to begin at zero. But it is very important to highlight to the viewer that Y axis does not begin at zero. We've done it to this way (the dashed line with arrows) and it worked. Users immediately noticed the Y axis and understand what it means. What do you think?

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Posts: 51
Reply with quote  #2 

Line charts can go below zero too - does this mean you should always indicate that Y-axis goes beyond the displayed limits?  Wouldn't you do the same with the X axis, since it doesn't start and stop at both points?

My point is that I don't know how important it really is to highlight that the Y axis does not begin at zero - users shouldn't expect a line chart to start at zero.  In any case, the numbers should be adequate to highlight this.

That being said, here are my thoughts on your particular solution:

  • The dashed line is visually distracting and unnecessary.  I would use a solid line instead, like the lines in your X axis.
  • Maybe it would work as you intended on paper, but on a computer screen I tend to see arrows as an indication that a space is scrollable, i.e. that I'd be able to slide the Y axis, scrolling your chart up and down as if there are more data plotted above or below what is seen here.



Posts: 191
Reply with quote  #3 
Originally Posted by bella_gotie
...But it is very important to highlight to the viewer that Y axis does not begin at zero. ...

I disagree.

You need to label your axes, so that it is clear and understandable what scale the axis accounts for.

You do not need to highlight this fact.

- There are a wide variety of circumstances where it makes no sense to start the y axis at 0 at all (e.g. temperature, among many instances where 0 is not a bound). Drawing attention to the lack of a 0 is entirely counter-productive in such cases

- There are a wide variety of circumstances where the data plotted will cross the 0 line. when this is relevant (e.g., when above 0 is positive, and below - is negative), the 0 line should probably be highlighted

But adding extraneous graphics to draw the user's eye to the axis is entirely unnecessary, and to me, distracting.

To me, the graphic seems to say "look, this is how much the axis covers!", to which the only reply is "yes, that's what an axis does..."


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