How to make a bar chart with Chartbuilder

Quartz’s digital guru David Yanofsky was tired of building a branded chart every time a reporter asked him. So he built a dashboard so any novice coder could design and tweak their own. Then, Quartz open-sourced the dashboard for anyone to use. (Medium’s developers just released Charted.co which can visualize a spreadsheet you supply to it via URL. It’s worth playing around with, too.)

Here’s a chart I built with Chartbuilder.

Top ten colleges in Boston and Cambridge by food waste



Get the data


I Googled “filetype:xls Massachusetts food waste” and got a spreadsheet from the Massachusetts DEP that was initially based off an assessment by the US Environmental Protection Agency of Massachusetts food generators. Cool. I use LibreOffice.

raw data

Clean the data


Next, I filtered the list of 6,857 entries down to just Boston and Cambridge.



I copied this into a new sheet and ran another filter for the DEP code “IC” which limits my list to only colleges and universities.

limit IC


This resulted in the following:



Next, I took the top 10 food wasters by sorting the column “Generation (tons/year).” I copied this into another spreadsheet and hacked off two decimal places by selecting “Format –> Cells.” Voilá, a cleaned dataset:

cleaner data


Graphing it with Chartbuilder


I opened up Chartbuilder in a web browser.

open chartbuilder


Then I simply pasted in the 11 x 2 table of cleaned data.

paste in data


Next, I selected the “2. Series Options” and clicked Chart in the dropdown menu.

make chart

Then I changed the color in “2. Series Options.” Next, I cleaned up the axes and credited the data sources under “3. Chart Options.”



Embedding your chart


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Finally, I clicked “Create Image of Chart” from “4. Export” and downloaded a .png file of my chart. Beware: once you close the Chartbuilder tab on your browser, there’s no way of retrieving your information.



Finished product:



Aleszu Bajak

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