Executive Order data visualization tool to shed light on every documented order signed by a US president

Anyone watching the news lately has come across often heated discussions about executive orders. But what exactly are executive orders and what do they entail? More importantly, given the polarizing political spectrum as of late, how do executive orders of one president differ from another? In researching the answer to these questions, we came across several notable sources that would list out executive orders, such as the American Presidency Project but we wanted to have a more comprehensive tool that would let us view the orders, their differences and have the ability to research them deeper. So we built a Presidential Executive Orders data visualization tool to navigate every documented executive order and compare the patterns between presidencies. This tool also allows you to search for specific words and their use in the orders, compare political party orders, year-by-year, and to read each order in its entirety.


What are Executive Orders?

Executive Orders are legal documents issued by U.S. Presidents during their time in office. They are used to clarify law, set priorities, and influence the workings of the Federal government. Although the use of executive orders has varied during the course of U.S. history, taken together they offer a glimpse into the priorities of different presidents and the changing affairs of the U.S. government.

Why are we doing this project?

Since executive orders and published presidential memoranda have the full force of law and can have wide-ranging impacts in the United States and abroad, it is important to be able to explore and understand them in a historical context. Until now there has been no easy way to do so. This tool enables journalists, policy makers, researchers and the public to explore executive orders and search for terms of interest. Orders are sized by length and can be sorted by president, year, or party affiliation. Clicking on an order shows the full order text as well keywords relevant to the text. From there you can search the text for the keywords or search for all orders containing that word.


Example of searching orders that contain ‘Environment’

How are we doing it?

This project includes all executive orders and executive order counts published as part of the American Presidency Project hosted at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It also includes all presidential memoranda since 2000 published in the Federal Register. Order keywords were extracted and ranked with the help of IBM Watson’s Alchemy Language service. President portraits are sourced from Wikimedia Commons.


Clicking on an order allows you to read each order in its entirety with relevant details such as presidential information helpful keywords to depict the contents of the order.

This project was made by Pitch Interactive, a data visualization studio whose aim is to facilitate the understand of complex issues and relationships through visual representations to help us better educate ourselves and make more informed decisions and judgements. For any questions, please email info@pitchinteractive.com.