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Misleading Graphs. By: Sam Santos, Danielle McLaurin, David Kunde, and Jeremy Payne. Vocabulary. Bar graph-a diagram showing a system of connections or interrelations between two or more things by using bars

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Misleading Graphs

By: Sam Santos,

Danielle McLaurin,

David Kunde,

and Jeremy Payne



Bar graph-a diagram showing a system of connections or interrelations between two or more things by using bars

Box plot (also known as a box and whisker diagram)-a easy to of graphically portraying groups of numerical data through five number summaries

Histogram-a type of bar graph that the area over each interval is proportional to the relative frequency of data within the interval

Line graph-graph using a series of lines and points to show a change in time.


Median-number of middle value

Mode-number that appears the most

Pie Graph-a circle divided into sections to show connections.

Probability-The measure of how likely it is for an event to occur.


Important Information

Often graphs and statistics are used to persuade people. Advertisers may intentionally presents false information to convince people to buy their products. This is graphing misleading information.

So how can I tell if they are misleading me?


Graph Scale

A graph’s data may look like it has tripled in size when it has not. To make sure you aren’t being misleaded, follow these steps

  • Look at a graph’s scale to see if it starts at zero
  • Check to make sure the scale has an even interval




When a graph has an uneven interval, the graph can be distorted. This can make the data look less extreme than it really is.

Make sure the interval goes in even steps




Although a graph may look nice, it can distort the image and change how the data looks. A 3D graph may look nice but it doesn’t have a y-axis.

Make sure the graph has a y-axis displaying the data

Make sure the graph is straight across, or 2D

Check to see if the graph appears to be growing smaller in the distance




When symbols are used to represent data, the size of the shapes can mislead you.

Look at the scale and see how much the symbol is representing

If the symbols are different sizes, clarify how much they are representing