I am interested in a better way to plot monthly changes in a time-series. Especially I'd like to compare how the monthly change this year differs from the monthly change last year. Monthly change is computed as the percent change from last month or (This Month/Last Month)-1. I started with a line plot, which gives you the trend, but comparing these year-over year is cumbersome. For example:

Percent Change From Last Month


Here's what I came up with. I decided to go with a stacked bar/column chart. I did both and think the bar looks better. First you need to arrange your data with month names as the row names and the years as the column names. I had to order the months with December first so it will plot with January on top.

Data Prep

To make the plot look nice, I moved the vertical axis to the left and added a dotted line down the middle to represent zero change. I also put a thick border around the current year. With the years color coded, this chart makes comparing monthly change much easier. I can clearly see how the monthly change in January 2015 is the smallest we've seen in the past 5 years. Eureka!

Monthly Change Chart

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