The Different Types of Charts

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Area Chart Figure 1: Area chart Use it to… * Display over time (or any other dimension): * How a set of data adds up to a whole (cumulated totals) * Which part of the whole each element represents Variants * Percentage: The sum always represents 100% (relative scale) * Cumulative: The sum can vary according to the elements (absolute scale) Column/Bar Chart Use it to… * Present few data over a nominal (e. g. countries, testing conditions, … or interval scale (e. g. time); useful for comparisons of data Do not Use it for… * Comparisons: Better use one-dimensional scatterplots, because these are not dominated by bars or columns. * Larger data sets: Use line charts. Selecting Bars or Columns * Use analogy as a selection criterion, if applicable; when in doubt, use columns * Use a horizontal bar chart if the labels are too long to fit under the columns Variants Multiple Column/Bar Chart: Use it to present data rows for several variables * Side-by-Side Chart: Use it to (1) show contrasting trends between levels of an independent variable, (2) if comparisons between individual pairs of values are most important; do not use for more than two independent variables | | | Figure 2: Multiple column chart (left), side-by-side chart (right) Segmented Column/Bar Chart Other Names: Divided or stacked column/bar chart Figure 3: Segmented column chart (relative values) Use it to… * Present a part-whole relation over time (with accurate impression, see below) * Show proportional relationships over time * Display wholes which are levels on a nominal scale Segmented column/bar charts are more accurate than pie chart, because distances can be more accurately estimated than areas. Frequency Polygon, Histograms Figure 4: Histogram as frequency distribution Variants Polygon: Connects data points through straight lines or higher order graphs * Histogram: Columns/bars touch; useful for larger sets of data points, typically used for frequency distributions * Staircase Chart: Displays only the silhouette of the histogram; useful for even larger sets of data points, typically used for frequency distributions * Step chart: Use it to illustrate trends among more than two members of nominal or ordinal scales; do not use it for two or more variables or levels of a single variable (hard to read) * Pyramid histogram: Two mirror histograms;

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