How to create text annotations

In the "Annotate" tab in step 3: Visualize, you have the option to create text annotations for line charts and scatterplots. Here we show you how to create these annotations and what to pay attention to. 

This article will explain the basics of our annotation tools. You're already a pro and have used the tool many times? Then still consider having a look at 4 Alignment and 8 Offset. We've experienced that even long-time Datawrapper users can be surprised with these options.

How to use the annotations tool

Using the annotations tool is simple: Write a text in the text field, then click on the little cursor to place it in your chart:

If you want to add another annotation, click on " +Add text annotation". 

This simple-looking tool is surprisingly powerful, so next, we'll look at its features in detail. We already used the first two options:

1 Text field

Here you decide what your annotation should say. Annotations can have many use cases: You might want to replace the labels of a line chart, or explain why a chart looks like it does at a certain place. 

The text field does not understand HTML commands (like <b> or <br>), but you can create line breaks, just with pressing "enter" in the text field itself.

Your final chart can have emojis, so do go crazy with them. On a Mac(Book), you can choose emojis with pressing crtl + cmd + the space bar. You'll not just find fun emojis 😎🎉🌴, but also simple symbols like arrows and long lines ↑↓↘︎←│▶︎ that can make it easier for your reader to understand what your annotation is referring to. 

2 Position it yourself 

When clicking on the little cursor symbol, you can place the annotation in the chart. How it will look will depend heavily on your settings for Alignment (which we'll cover in a bit)

3 Precise position

After placing your text annotation with the little mouse cursor (3), you will be able to adjust the position precisely. The first value is the value on the  horizontal  axis (on line charts, that's usually a date) and the second value is the value on the vertical axis.

4 Alignment

Here you decide how the text should be aligned. That's especially important when using multiple-lined annotations or the "offset" setting (8). The question the Alignment feature answers is: "Where is the precise position (3) in relation to the whole text block?" Every one of these nine little squares is a possibility. 

For example, if we have the position set on 2010 for the horizontal axis and 55 for the vertical axis and our alignment is set on the top-right, then the top-right corner of our annotation will be aligned with 2010 and 55:

If you have an annotation with multiple lines and want it to be left-aligned, choose one of the three little squares at the left. If you want your annotation to be right-aligned, choose the squares at the right. And you will achieve a center-aligned annotation with choosing any of the three squares in the centre. 

5 More options

With a click on the button with the arrow, you will open up four more options. Let's have a look at them in detail:

6 Formatting

Here you can decide if the entire annotation should be in bold, italic, underlined or should have a specific text color. 

For the text color, consider taking the color of the chart element you want to explain. For example, if you want to make a statement about a red line ("This peak in 2014 is due to x"), then consider using the same red color for your annotation. 

7 Text size

Here you can use the buttons + and  to increase or decrease the text size of your annotation. The text size will be displayed between the + and the –. That's helpful if you want to give another annotation the same text size. 

In general, try to not have too many different text styles and text sizes. Try to reduce them to two different text sizes and two different types of formatting. 

8 Offset

The offset feature might seem a bit hard to understand, but you'll find that it's necessary to make sure that your charts look best on all devices; desktop and mobile. 

So what's the problem? Well, if you place an annotation next to an object (like a line in a line chart), the relative distance between the line and the annotation will stay the same no matter if your chart gets displayed on a smartphone or a desktop, but the absolute distance will differ. What does that mean? That your annotations might look beautiful on a desktop, but bad on a smartphone. Or the other way round: 

The offset setting solves this problem. We can set the precise position (3) on the line we want to point to, and then set the offset to (in this case) -10 / 0. The offset is always the same in absolute terms: -10 means that the annotation goes 10 pixels to the left, no matter on a smartphone or on a desktop:

The offset setting makes sure that your annotations are always readable and have exactly the same distance to a line or another chart element that you want it to have.

👉 To learn more about how to use offset to precisely place an annotation, visit our Academy article  "How to align annotations to a chart grid".

9 Delete

Finally, if you want to delete an annotation of yours, you can do this with the click on the red trash button.

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