How Are Charts Used?

Charts are used to make large quantities of data easier to read and to make the relationships between the data easier to comprehend. Like most data visualizations, charts can be read more quickly than the raw data could, and they make the story behind the data easier for the viewer to grasp.

Some chart types are more useful for certain purposes and certain data than others. Percentages might be displayed in a type of chart called a pie chart, or in a bar chart, while data that changes over time might be displayed as a type of chart called a line chart.

Common Elements of Charts

No matter what type of chart we’re discussing, most charts have a few common features. They generally focus more on the graphic than on text. And the chart will probably have a legend containing the variables appearing in the chart (e.g. “yes is blue, no is red, undecided is green”).

But it’s the differences between types of charts that are more interesting, because this in when we can start to decide which type of chart will work best for which type of data.

There are many, many types of charts out there. Some of the most common types of charts we’ve already mentioned: bar charts, pie charts and line charts. A bar chart is a chart with rectangular bars with lengths proportional to the values they represent. A pie chart shows percentages displayed as a slice of pie. A line chart connects data arranged over time in order to show trends over time.

There are also histograms, timelines, area charts, and treemaps. We’ll get into these less-common types of charts more extensively in the pages that follow.

In the meantime, you can always check out our data visualization blog where we talk about how to put different chart types to work. See, for example, how to create bubble charts with Photoshop.

Need help putting together a chart? Visually is ready to help you assemble and illustrate your data for presentations or any other need. Contact us today.

Examples of Charts:

Nuts and Bolts of Chart Types