I am trying to understand a bit more about the statistical intuition behind bullet charts. This one in particular has two "measure" readouts, one is dark blue one is light blue:

enter image description here

For clarity, the gray shadings that we see are the qualitative measures, often depicting ordinal thresholds (above xx level = good, above yy level = great, ect). The black marker is used as a "marker" to show the value of something (though I suppose it could be repurposed to show other descriptive stats, like median)


Is there an existing convention regarding how to interpret the existence of two "measure" readouts (dark blue bar, light blue bar)? I concede the point that with visualization the sky is the limit, of course we can depict whatever we want. What I'm after is: what is the motivation, generally speaking, for wanting this kind of granularity in the visualization?

Choose any of the examples: Revenue, profit, order size, new customers, satisfaction if you dont mind a basic worked out example / applied analysis to demonstrate why it would be meaningful to two colors for the inner blue bars.


  {"title":"Revenue","subtitle":"US$, in thousands","ranges":[150,225,300],"measures":[220,270],"markers":[250]},
  {"title":"Order Size","subtitle":"US$, average","ranges":[350,500,600],"measures":[100,320],"markers":[550]},
  {"title":"New Customers","subtitle":"count","ranges":[1400,2000,2500],"measures":[1000,1650],"markers":[2100]},
  {"title":"Satisfaction","subtitle":"out of 5","ranges":[3.5,4.25,5],"measures":[3.2,4.7],"markers":[4.4]}

I don't know that there is a convention. To make sense in the bullet chart context, we should have:

  • dark blue value can never be greater than light blue value
  • each value can be interpreted against the thresholds.

The first requirement rules out things like previous-year/current-year. The second rules out part-to-whole uses, such as domestic and foreign parts.

The most reasonable interpretation I can think of is to represent a low/high range to show uncertainty or a summarization of multiple values.


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