When to use certain types of graphs and why
Creating an infographic can be something really stressful, or it can be an enjoyable experience. Once you have chosen the information that you want to make an infographic for, it is time to pick the right graph.
In a Mac and Pc there is a tool in both Word and Pages that is called charts. There are different kinds of charts. Choosing the right one will depend on your data, and the type of information you are trying to get across.
There are three main types of data which are comparison data, composition data, and distribution data.
- For comparison data the ideal charts are line and bar charts.
- Charts that are ideal for composition data are Pie/Doughnut charts, Stacked Charts, Multi-level pie charts etc.
- For distribution data scatter charts are used.
For more information on types of data click here.
Depending on how you want to portraying your data there are certain charts you have to use. This chart will be a useful way to look at the information you have and see if you are trying to compare it, see data over time, or break it into parts. A useful tool to keep in mind.
Once you have classified your information into one of the three types of data you will be able to choose the right graph. Some of the basic types of graphs are:
- A Pie chart is a circular chart that is divided into sections to illustrate proportion.
- A bar chart is a chart with either horizontally or vertically arranged rectangular bars the lengths of which are proportional to the values that they represent.
- A scatter plot displays data as a collection of points. Each point on the chart is plotted with two variables on the horizontal and vertical axes.
- An area chart, which is a variation of a line chart, is made by a series of data points that are connected by a line.
Finally when you have selected a graph keep in mind for any graph you could possibly chose, they all have the same elements. Chart title, the legend, data, and the axes and tick.
- The chart title should accurately describe what the chart is meant to depict. It should be large enough to be easily readable, but not too large or too distracting. In other words, it should do its job and then get out of the way.
- The legend is what describes the data it’s what makes your chart make sense and is usually smaller that the data itself. Legends are generally placed beneath the data, but not always. The colors of the items within the legend should correspond to the data on the chart.
- Depending on the type of chart in use, the data can take many different forms. It can be 2D, 3D or textured.
- The axes and tick marks should sort of fade into the background but be easy to read when needed.
For more information on types of graphs and their elements click here.
It is not difficult to create your own graph. After reading this blog you will be able to go step by step until you create the perfect graph. Creating graphs is something that will be useful in professional writing specially when creating infographics and visuals for reports.
Karen Michelle Sepulveda is a sophomore attending the University of South Florida. Pursuing a degree in advertising through the college of business.