Choosing the Right Chart for Your Data

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Ever wonder what sorts of charts or graphs would best represent your data? This video goes over the four common uses for charts and graphs and gives tips on which one might be best for you.

Often the kinds of discoveries we are trying to make fall, loosely, into a few categories: Comparison, Relation, Distribution and Composition.

The best charts for comparison tend to have fewer elements with a clear mapping to a dimension that is easy to compare, such as length. Bar and simple line charts are well suited for this. When comparing against a set of ranges you might even use the more specific bullet chart. Here the tick mark represents a value compared against several thresholds represented by the different colored background bars.

If you are trying to find behavior shared between two or more values you are interested in visualizing relationships. Charts to identify these relationships require a data series to have two or more dimensions. The scatterplot is best suited to this task.

Sometimes what we are interested in is the distribution, or shape of the data. For this line and bar charts are useful once again, but this time more data points will give a view to the data’s shape rather that individual point comparisons.

Sometimes you have a large body of data and what you want to illustrate is it’s composition by constituent parts. Pie charts and doughnut charts illustrate values as a percentage of the total. For other kinds of composition, sunburst charts are good at illustrating hierarchies and tag clouds can give a sense of common words or phrases in a dataset. As a special case the Percent Stacked Bar Chart will let you both see composition and compare it.

Each chart has strengths and weaknesses; and the rules to use one or another are not rigid.  Experiment with and explore the different charts in Datameer infographics to find the best ways to show your insights.

This video also belongs to the following categories: choosing the right graph for your data, pie chart, line graph, what are infographics, how to make infographics

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