Here’s a preprint of our paper on aspect ratio selection which will appear in InfoVis 2011. In it we propose a new criteria for banking data plots, building on previous ideas from Bill Cleveland and Jeff Heer and Maneesh Agrawala.
We frame the aspect ratio selection problem as one of minimizing the length of the data curve while keeping the area of the plot constant. This leads to a method that is substantially more robust than previous approaches. We’re also able to demonstrate empirically that the resulting aspect ratios are a compromise between those suggested by previous methods. As shown below, the arc length method can also effectively bank both standard line charts (in this case a loess regression line) as wells as contour charts.
Perhaps the most surprising result is that good aspect ratios can be selected without explicit reference to the slopes or orientations of the line segments within the plot.