Types of graphs and how to choose the right one for your data

Graph Maker

So many graphs and so little time to test your data’s visuals after you’ve input them. Thankfully, most industries have their version of the best chart-making practices. All you have to do is copy their design and data hierarchy principles; that’s pretty much it.

That is why it’s so easy for anyone to use an online graph maker. Their templates use the best industry practices, saving you time and resources.

Innately, each chart type can do something much better than its counterpart. For example, a pie chart works so well in illustrating the data overview, but it cannot display changes over time. On the other hand, line graphs can accurately depict this flawlessly. However, line charts are confusing if you’re using twin perpendicular, parallel, or intersecting lines, making bars your best alternative.

In this short cheatsheet, you’ll learn about the commonly-used types of graphs and the best way to use them for your data.

Bar Graph

THE RIGHT TIME TO USE A BAR GRAPH MAKER

There are tons of categories to compare and test when using a line chart. While they look good, it doesn’t appear very clear because too many lines are scattered visually. This is where bar charts come in since it displays data comparison much better than line graphs. With its solid bars and height differences, bar chart readers can instantly see and compare the data presented.

However, lines still outperform bars as it comes to comparing changes over time. For example, using bars to plot a stock’s change in value throughout the day will look confusing and unnecessarily cluttered.

Speaking of which…

IS A LINE GRAPH ALWAYS NEEDED?

When you say “charts,” most people automatically think of a line graph. With a single search engine image query, you’ll find either a bar or line chart on top of the list. While line charts are perfect for illustrating an item’s changes over time, it is not as effective as pies when showing the parts that make up a whole.

Commonly, stock markets use line charts because investors want to see historical changes and trends. However, they use modified line-bar chart hybrids, such as candlesticks, to introduce further trend data. Brand managers measure a product’s market value using lines, allowing businesses to take the best course of action on multiple products (with their respective line charts) effectively.

XY GRAPH MAKER: WHEN YOU NEED TO PLAY DATA ‘BATTLESHIP’

Here’s a fun fact: French philosopher Rene Descartes’ “Cartesian Coordinate System” is basically “Battleship,” as in the popular submarine simulation game. But fun facts aside, this coordinate system has become so helpful for maps with longitudes and latitudes representing X and Y planes. Now, anyone can indicate coordinates, enter them on a map application or other program, and find the location.

An XY graph is also useful for many other things. For example, statisticians and data scientists comparing too many changes over time will break their line charts and use dots scattered across an XY plane to display data. Not sure how to make this type of graph work? Venngage, a popular graph making app takes away any complications by providing thousands of templates to choose from.

PIE GRAPH: MAKING YOU HUNGRY FOR DATA

Pie graphs are simple and easy to understand. They’re perfect for displaying any information that doesn’t illustrate changes over time and has common quantitative categories.

One good example of utilizing pie graphs is for presenting budgets. Pie charts can easily illustrate which parts take up the biggest slice. Interestingly, computers also use pies to demonstrate how much data remains and which type of files are consuming the most space in your system.

PLOT GRAPH MAKER: KINDA LIKE A SHOOTING RANGE

Plot charts are efficient in showing performance deviations and accurate measurements. For example, most heavy machinery manufacturers use plots to calibrate a drill or claw’s movement accuracy, allowing them to find faults and test stability systems.

Plot Chart

In addition, plot graphs help have more accurate line graphs. For example, you can plot different data points, then connect the dots to find a trend afterward. Here are other uses for plot or dot charts.

CIRCLE GRAPH MAKER: MORE THAN YOUR USUAL PIES

Pies illustrate simple components that make up a whole. But, circle graphs can do so much more by showing readers the small parts that make up each pie slice. One great example is an art store’s complex color wheel, which includes the various shades of the original ROYGBV pie color wheel.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND GRAPH MAKER: THE ONLY EXCEPTION

Supply and demand is one topic that’s an exception to the rule of never using more than one category in a line graph. Both supply and demand change in value over time and closely correlate to each other, making viable line data illustrations. Moreover, their intersection points indicate break-evens, which are substantial for economists analyzing research data.

PICTOGRAPH MAKER: AN INFOGRAPHICS STAPLE

Infographics are instrumental for explaining data in a fun and visual way. Most infographics integrate pictographs on their illustrations, effectively introducing informative and entertaining data. Unfortunately, these graphs being more design-centric can accidentally misrepresent data, easily misleading readers in the process.

THE RIGHT GRAPH ILLUSTRATES ACCURATE DATA

Graphs and charts make it easy to understand complex information that would take tons of time to read thoroughly. Knowing the right graph to use helps display data in the best way possible to avoid misconceptions and misleading audiences about the true nature of your research.

Share this article