More than just Numbers

The historical research uses statistics since ever.  And Official Statistics are a favourite source for quantitative historiography and digital humanities.

‘Statistics are more than just numbers’

Statistics New Zealand depicts the history of the capital Wellington with a popular format – an infographic.

‘In 1865, following a period of heated debate, an independent tribunal of three Australians selected Wellington to be New Zealand’s capital. Since that time a lot has changed in Wellington and Statistics NZ has been able to follow and track that change through the data it collects.’

How true!: ‘Statistics are more than just numbers, they can chart change, record history, and be a tool for decision making.’ (Source: Stats NZ)



Visual first – Visual.ONS

Visual representations of statistical data are attractive – and worth to build an own website with nothing but (info)graphs and maps … and more behind it!

ONS did it:


‘The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and is the recognised national statistical institute for the UK. Visual.ONS is a website exploring new approaches to making ONS statistics accessible and relevant to a wide public audience. The site supports the UK Statistic Authority’s publicly stated intention of “making data, statistics and analysis more accessible, engaging and easier to understand”.
The site will be a home to a variety of different content, including infographics, interactive visualisations and short analysis, exploring data from a range of ONS outputs. It is neither a replacement nor a rebuild of the current ONS website which continues to be the home of ONS’ regular outputs and statistics.’

So far the statement of ONS.


More than pictures

Behind the graphs you can find lots of interactive tools.
A calculator to find out life expectancy is one example:


Great! And the graphs and interactive tools can be embedded into other websites.

Knickgraph … ?

The Swiss Federal Statistical Office has been publishing data visualizations for more than 100 years. Its head of graphic design, Daniel von Burg, reveals some curiosities.

Used for the first time in the 1897 Atlas, the Knickgraph optimizes the surface of a bar graph. Its length is proportional to the value that is being represented. It provides an elegant solution to a problem that’s often encountered in data visualization: how to include a value that is much greater that the others in a graph, without completely attenuating the visual impact of the smaller values.

Swiss land area and population density.
© Graphical and Statistical Atlas of Switzerland, 1897

The FSO once again turned to the Knickgraph in the 2012 edition of its Statistical Yearbook, in the chapter on health. In order to produce this visualization, two separate diagrams had to be superimposed.

The chapter on health

The full presentation can be found on swiss-infographics’ website