Waterfall charts in style of The Economist with R

May 7, 2012

(This article was first published on mages' blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Waterfall charts are sometimes quite helpful to illustrate the various moving parts in financial data, in particular where I have positive and negative values like a profit and loss statement (P&L). However, they can be a bit of a pain to produce in Excel. Not so in R, thanks to the waterfall package by James Howard. In combination with the latticeExtra package it is nearly a one-liner to produce a good looking waterfall chart that mimics the look of The Economist:

Example of a waterfall chart in R
data(rasiel) # Example data of the waterfall package
# label value subtotal
# 1 Net Sales 150 EBIT
# 2 Expenses -170 EBIT
# 3 Interest 18 Net Income
# 4 Gains 10 Net Income
# 5 Taxes -2 Net Income

waterfallchart(value~label, data=rasiel,
groups=subtotal, main="P&L")

Of course you can create a waterfall chart also with ggplot2, the Learning R blog has a post on this topic.

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