Back in October of last year I wrote a blog post about reordering/rearanging plots. This was, and continues to be, a frequent question on list serves and R help sites. In light of my recent studies/presenting on The Mechanics of Data Visualization, based on the work of Stephen Few (2012, 2009), I realized I was remiss in explaining the ordering of variables from largest to smallest bar (particularly Cleveland Dot Plots and Bar Plots). It is often much more meaningful to arrange (order) factor levels by size of other numeric variable(s). This allows for easier pattern recognition over the standard alphabetic arrangement of levels.
The post will take you through a demonstration of sorting bars/points on another variable, however it assumes you already know how that if you want to reorder/rearrange in a plot you must reorder the factor levels (if you do not know this see this blog post). We then explore my GitHub package plotflow to add efficiency to re-leveling in the workflow. After we learn how to sort by bar/point size we will look at an applied use. I will use ggplot2 because this is my go to plotting system, however, these methods work with base and lattice plotting systems as well. […]