The below is a section from a larger Sankey diagram by Adrián Chiogna, shown at visualize.org. This is for budget flow and activity based costing.

Check out the full image at visualize.org.

From Katie Nieland’s early bird desgin blog, this Sankey diagram shows an average US family’s tax burden.
Income tax goes to the national budget that is further broken down to show spendings.

More than half of the tax load is social security tax, another 1,016 US$ us medicare. Out of the 9,983 US$ taxes some 1,016 US$ go to national defense.

Data for this average Joe Taxpayer is from ‘Your 2010 Federal Taxpayer Receipt’ by whitehouse.gov

Carl-Johan Skoeld of China-based strategic advisory firm Stenvall Skoeld & Company presented the following Sankey diagram in his recent post on ‘How a 31-year old Shanghai office worker spends his money’.


(Stenvall Skoeld & Company via ChartPorn)

This is a fine sample of a Sankey diagram that merits some more explanation:
In fact, these are two combined Sankey diagrams. The overall sum of 10,000 RMB income breaks down to some 25% taxes, 19% savings and 56% spendings (consumption). The Sankey arrow representing the disposable income is then zoomed to allow for more detail to be seen. Hence the Sankey arrows in the left part of the diagram are not the same scale as the ones on the right. The arrows branching out to the top are considered “necessities”, while the one that go downwards represent “discretionary spendings”. Circles at the end of the arrow show the amount in Chinese currency. As the author points out, “this example is from one of the respondents and not an average of all respondents.”

Blog reader W. Rufer sent a scan of a Sankey diagram from his favourite soccer magazine.

Rufer writes: “I found this rather unusual Sankey diagram in a German soccer magazine called 11Freunde (11Friends). It visualizes the career of French international Nicolas Anelka in terms of transfer and lending fees. He started in the youth team of Paris Saint-Germain, changed to their first team in 1995 and got sold to Arsenal for 750’000 € (left side of the Sankey diagram). From there he made his way through Europe, sometimes for incredible transfer fees of about 35 million €. Now, as a rather old player, he earns his money in China.”

The legend also has grey arrows, when Anelka was “on loan” to another club. The change to his current club was without tranfer fee (different blue).

In a post on the winners of the SND 31 competition over at the Infographics News Blog I found the below diagram on the President’s Budget. Originally published by the Washington Post it has won an Award of Excellence in the 31st edition of the Society of News Design contest in the Infographics / Breaking News section.

It is not really a Sankey diagram, since the arrows are not explicitly directed. But it has weighted arrows/bands, in this case representing $$$. This infographic was maybe inspired by this one from Spain that was – after lengthy discussion – named a “distribution diagram”.

I cropped the lower part of the infographic that had details on the deficit as bar chart. See original, full infographic file here.

Two more infographics in this post have characteristics of Sankey diagrams, and I might post them here on the Sankey Diagrams blog, if I run out of ideas one day…

A tiny example, but fun to see: income statement, apparently for a webhosting company. Operational Expenses (OPEX) in light blue, cost of goods sold (COGS) in light brown, net income in green. No currency given, I think this is just to convey the idea of “money flows” and to give an idea how data can be presented other than in tables.

This is from a post called “5 exciting alternatives to boring power points” at Speaking Power Point.

The detail shows though that even if Sankey diagrams are “sexier” than tables, you still need to pay attention to the details when drawing them. This one was apparently made in Power Point by joining shapes and arrows. Which wasn’t all that successful in some places, as the detail shows. Would have been better to use a Sankey diagram software.

I am aware that I was kind of ‘Sankey diagram bashing’ with my post on Spain energy flow diagram last December. Now here is another one from the Iberian penninsula that fully makes up for the first one. It is by Observatorio sobre Energía y Desarrollo Sostenible (Observatory of Energy and Sustainability in Spain) at the Universidad Pontifícia Comillas in Madrid. I find it noteworthy that the observatory is part of a BP financed chair at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería (ICAI).

The annual report 2010 includes three Sankey diagrams, two of which are shown below. The first Sankey diagram (p. 16 of the report) has the typical pattern of a ‘national energy consumption, conversion and use’ diagram, similar to the ones presented here on the blog several times already for other countries.

The flows from the left show energy sources, the nodes on the right are the use sectors. A nice feature here is that the node heights are adapted to the magnitude of the Sankey arrow, so that the largest energy consumption can immediately be seen. Flows are in in Exajoule (1 EJ = 1000 Petajoule = 10E18 J). The total primary energy consumption in Spain in 2009 was 5.86 EJ (4.95 EJ of which are from imported fuels). Also shown next to the absolute quantities is the relative share of each flow in percent, and the change in comparison to the previous year.

The second Sankey diagram (p.22) is what I would call a value stream Sankey diagram.

This is interesting as the market price for the fuels, as well as for converted energy is used as a weighting factor, so that each Sankey arrow shows the value of the energy flow in millions of Euro. At some nodes you can see that a smaller arrow enters, and a wider arrow leaves: These are the conversion processes where value is added (or energy gets more expensive). This is a compelling concept for a Sankey diagram (another similar example is here), one that somehow could make Sankey diagrams more interesting for economists or controllers, rather than considering them exclusively in the engineering domain.

The third diagram (not shown here, p. 19 in the report) shows the embodied carbon or the greenhouse gas emissions related to the different fuels, broken down by fuel and sector of energy consumption. The embodied carbon in the energy carriers were roughly 285 Mtons in 2009. The Sankey arrows for renewable energy sources as well as for Uranium are not present in the third diagram.

Me gustan mucho estas tres diagramas de Sankey! Merecen elogío.

I recently discovered Trefis and their Sankey-style diagrams as a visualization. Trefis models are used to determine the target stock price for companies, by looking at their product portfolios and playing around with the expected growth rates and market shares. Well, there is a whole model behind these interactive graphics, but the interesting part is that the share of the companies turnover is broken down by products, and is shown with proportional Sankey-like arrow magnitudes.

At the tip of the joint arrow head you can see the target share price, which is calculated as “the result of mathematically combining all of our forecasts for a company into a single number representing the per share value of the company.” When playing around with the parameters, this value will adapt accordingly.

Here are some examples:



Forbes, techCrunch and the New York Times all reported about what the latter calls “America’s Next Top Stock Model”, but none of the mentioned Sankey diagrams though.

Have fun playing around with the models … they have fancy Web2.0-silverlightish animations too. But don’t blame me if the share doesn’t reach the forecasted price ;)