Should I display zero-values in a line chart?


I’m not really sure if I should display zero-values in my line chart.

What I mean:
I’m tracking if something has been interacted with. I display the sum of Interactions per hour and of course sometimes there has been no Interaction at all in an hour.
If there have been no Interactions, should I make a data point at zero or should the line directly connect with the next, non-zero, value?

I hope it’s clear what I mean, otherwise please tell me.

zero it. Otherwise the data would suggest a constant usage

Well presumably you have the number of interactions on one axis, and time on the other. If interactions per hour are to be expressed, I’d think you’d have a point for each hour on the time axis. If the number of interactions during a particular hour is 0, there should be a point at 0, of course. Otherwise the graph would be inaccurate.

Yes, y is number of interactions and x is time.
I have one dot for each hour but I thought it would maybe work if the hours where the number of interactions is zero just don’t have a dot.
Would you still consider it as confusing?

It would be confusing if I knew going in that there are hours that measure zero, and my confusion would stem from the question as to why you’d graph the data inaccurately.

Or, if I didn’t know anything about it, I might still be somewhat confused by the absence of a data point on some hours, but more importantly, I’d have an inaccurate impression of the data.

When presenting data, you must present it accurately, or it isn’t data. Your question isn’t a matter of “design decision,” it’s a question of whether to discard, and therefore disregard, data. Hopefully I’ve helped you see that you shouldn’t even be considering that.

Alright, thank you

I’m assuming a “line chart” is another name for a “fever chart.”

If one or more of the horizontal axis increments is zero, you need to take the line down to zero for that increment. If you didn’t, the line would imply a non-zero value for that period that was halfway between the previous increment value and the one that follows.

For the purposes of a chart like this, zero is an important number that provides important information. You can’t just ignore it.

That would be confusing and a very non-standard way of communicating zero. I see no more reason to ignore zero than I do to ignore 3 or 7 or any other time increment value.

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