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Top 10 Types of Charts and Graphs in Data Visualization

Updated: May 18, 2021

top 10 types of charts and graphs in data visualization

Charts and graphs are the building blocks of data visualization – and your dashboards. And choosing the right chart and graph impacts immensely on how well your data story is conveyed. With different goals and use cases of every chart and graph, you don’t want to make the mistake of using the wrong viz in your data story. Some of the common use cases of charts and graphs are;

  • Showing comparison among items.

  • Showing comparison of overtime.

  • Indicating composition – part to whole relationship.

  • Showing correlation – relationship between variables.

  • Showing distribution of data (frequency of values in data).

  • Performing location analysis.

  • Showing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – important business information.

Therefore in this brief article, I'll explore 10 common charts and graphs in data visualization.

Want a free guide + 35 data visualizations widgets to help you fast track your data visualization skills? Right here;

1. Bar & Column Chart

Bar chart in Tableau

Bar chart displays values in the horizontal X-axis while Column chart displays values in the vertical Y-axis.

Both the charts are useful when you need to show comparison among discrete categories. For instance, comparing different products or items in a retail store.

Best practices

  • Whenever axis and labels are used at the same time, be careful not to clutter your viz.

  • Sorting the bars (case of bar chart) makes the viz more user friendly.

  • All bars should be in the same color.

  • Grind lines used within the viz should be blurred to avoid clutter.

  • Provide additional details on the tooltip.

2. Pie Chart

Pie chart in Tableau

Pie chart just like donut chart is useful when you need to show numerical proportions – parts to whole.

Best practices

  • Do not use if pie dimension has more than three categories.

  • Avoid pie chart if the goal is to help user make fine distinctions.

  • Label the chart clearly.

  • Provide additional details on the tooltip.

Useful: Explore how to create doughnut chart in Tableau

3. Histogram Graph

Histogram graph in Tableau

Histogram graph just like the box plot is used to show distribution of data. By appearance, it looks like a column chart – unlike column chart, histogram is created by grouping values into ranges (bins).

The height of the bar shows the number of values falling within a particular range.

Best practices

  • Ensure the chart tells a meaningful story by choosing the right bin sizes. Avoid choosing too wide or too small bin size.

  • Provide additional details on the tooltip.

  • Label the axis & bins clearly.

  • If need be, use parameters to let users select the appropriate bin size.

Useful: Explore how to create a box plot in Tableau

4. Bullet Chart

Bullet chart in Tableau

Bullet chart is a variation of bar charts developed by Stephen Few as a replacement of dashboard gauges and meters. Generally used to show progress towards a certain goal. A good example would be illustrating actual sales and progress towards the target sales.

Best practices

  • Show and label axis clearly.

  • Provide more details on the tooltip.

  • Use color, and borders conservatively to avoid clutter.

5. Funnel Chart

Funnel chart in Tableau

Funnel chart is used to illustrate stages in a Sales process and show the amount of potential revenue for each stage. Funnel chart displays values as progressively decreasing proportions amounting to 100 percent in total.

This chart can be useful in identifying potential problem areas in an organization’s sales processes.

Best practices

  • Label the chart appropriately.