DIY abortions: Using Google search fo data reporting

CaptureSometimes, data journalist sneak over the line from using spread sheets to  find trends to sophisticated  data analysis. On the simple approach side, see this  from the NYTimes Sunday Review story on Google searches and abortion :

In 2015, in the United States, there were about 119,000 searches for the exact phrase “how to have a miscarriage.” There were also searches for other variants — “how to self-abort” — and for particular methods. Over all, there were more than 700,000 Google searches looking into self-induced abortions in 2015.

For comparison, there were some 3.4 million searches for abortion clinics and, according to estimates by the Guttmacher Institute, there are around one million legal abortions a year.

The 700,000 searches included about 160,000 asking how to get abortion pills through unofficial channels — searches like “buy abortion pills online” and “free abortion pills.”

There were tens of thousands of searches looking into abortion by herbs like parsley or by vitamin C. There were some 4,000 searches looking for directions on coat hanger abortions, including about 1,300 for the exact phrase “how to do a coat hanger abortion.” There were also a few hundred looking into abortion through bleaching one’s uterus and punching one’s stomach.


Data Visualization 101: How to use Google Docs make a simple chart

This is an update of a Knight Tutorial.

Go to Google Drive1

Note the Create  and Upload buttons. All of your docs will be listed on the right.


Click on the create and select Spreadsheet. A new window should open. Note the following features: The menu bar lets you select different commands to change your spreadsheet.  A cell is an individual square where you can double-click and type in information. The cells are organized into rows (assigned numbers) and columns (assigned letters).


(This is chart from old Google.)


Make a pie chart

The pie chart is the most ubiquitous of charts. Here’s what it is and when to use it.

  • It is a circle divided into segments.
  •  It should illustrate the relationship of the parts of a total.
  • The data may be numeric but it is usually displayed in percentages.
  •  Never more than 5 parts. If you have more than five subsets, consider a TreeMap.

Save your spreadsheet and call it “Pie Chart.” You only have to do this once. The document will autosave as you make changes.

Fill in the data as shown below. Select cell A1 by clicking it once. Hold down the Shift key and click in Cell B4 to select the range of data


Click on Insert in the Google Menu Bar and select Charts. A new window will appear.

It will recommend charts for your data and offer other options for different kinds of data.  Customize  title, type and colors with third tab.  Hit insert and it will show up on your spread sheet. Click the menu on the upper right corner and choose “Publish chart.”  (You also have the option to copy or save chart as an image here.)


Select  “Image” as the format and copy the code on to a blog post.