Chart Your Data

by Jack Dougherty, last updated March 21, 2017

Charts pull readers deeper into your story. Even if your data contains geographical information, sometimes a chart tells your story better than a map. But designing meaningful, interactive charts requires careful thought about how to communicate your data story with your audience. In this chapter, you will learn how to:

See also related chapters in this book:

Basic chart types Best use and tutorial chapters
Grouped column or bar
Best to compare categories side-by-side. Vertical columns, or horizontal bars for long labels.
Easy tool: Google Sheets bar and column tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates
Separated column or bar
Best to compare categories in separate clusters. Vertical columns, or horizontal bars for long labels.
Easy tool: Google Sheets bar and column tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates
Stacked column or bar
Best to compare sub-categories, or parts of a whole. Vertical columns, or horizontal bars for long labels.
Easy tool: Google Sheets bar and column tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates
Histogram
Best to show distribution of raw data, with number of values in each bucket.
Easy tool: Google Sheets bar and column tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates
Pie chart
Best to show parts of a whole, but hard to estimate size of slices.
Easy tool: Google Sheets pie chart tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates
Line chart
Best to show continuous data, such as change over time.
Easy tool: Google Sheets line chart tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates
Filtered line chart
Best to show multiple lines of continuous data, with on-off toggle buttons.
Easy tool: Tableau Public filtered line chart tutorial
Stacked area chart
Best to show parts of a whole, with change over time.
Easy tool: Google Sheets stacked area tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates
Scatter chart
Best to show relationship between two sets of data. Also called an XY chart.
Easy tool: Google Sheets scatter chart tutorial or Tableau Public scatter chart tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates
Bubble chart
Best to show relationship between three or four sets of data, using bubble size and color.
Easy tool: Google Sheets bubble chart tutorial
Power tool: Highcharts templates

For more advanced chart types and tutorials:

Data Visualization For All is copyrighted by Jack Dougherty and contributors and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may freely share and modify this content for non-commercial purposes, with a source credit to http://DataVizForAll.org.
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