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5. Scatter Plots > Dealing with Overplotting

Dealing with Overplotting

Problem

You have many points and they obscure each other.

Solution

With large data sets, the points in a scatter plot may obscure each other and prevent the viewer from accurately assessing the distribution of the data. This is called overplotting. If the amount of overplotting is low, you may be able to alleviate it by using smaller points, or by using a different shape (like shape 1, a hollow circle) through which other points can be seen. Figure 5-2 in Making a Basic Scatter Plot demonstrates both of these solutions.

If there’s a high degree of overplotting, there are a number of possible solutions:

  • Make the points semitransparent
  • Bin the data into rectangles (better for quantitative analysis)

  

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