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Commonly Used Charts and Their Purposes

Commonly Used Charts and Their PurposesOne of the most common ways to compress large amounts of complicated data into an easy and understandable format is by using charts and graphs. Several kinds of charts are available to use for different purposes.

The column chart, the scatter chart, the stacked area chart, the drop-down listyou can use these charts and many more to visually represent all kinds of data with one or two variables, values, or data points.

However, when picking out a chart to display your data points or values, it is almost impossible to pick just one as there are so many. They all look similar,and they all look like they will serve you their purpose well enough.

Different charts are typically for different circumstances. Therefore, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the most commonly used types and when to use them.

Bar Chart

One of the most common types used is the bar chart. You can use these charts to represent contrasting data. Also, you can use them to show a comparative analysis of two different sets of data.

You can use vertical bars of different colors to represent the data belonging to a particular category. The use of different colors makes it more readable, and also allows you to express the same data element in differentcategories of the bar chart with ease.

Overall, you should use bar charts when you are comparing large sets of data.

Pie Chart

A pie chart is another of the morecommon type ofcharts. They are used to represent data of a single variable value;this kind of chart is in the form of a pie.

Each slice represents different categories and subcategories of your data. This type of chart is the most beneficial to use when you wish to compare data based on a single variable value.

You can use the pie chart to represent several categories such as age range, eye color,gender, etc. You can also use a pie chart to express the significance of one kind of group or factor over the others.


Histograms are a special type of chart where the line chart and the vertical bar chart are combined. In a histogram, the data represents continuous categories instead of discrete categories.

This is why there is hardly any a gap present between the vertical bars in a histogram. Often, the data in the histogram may be so extensive in number that it might cause the histogram to have multiple columns.

To make it easy for analysis, the data in a histogram is often groupedtogether.You can use a histogram to show how a particular variable or value changes over a fixed time interval. Histograms are also suitable for displaying the distribution of data.

Line Charts

Line ChartsLine charts are one of the most common types of charts available. You can use them to display resulting data over a continuous value of a variable. The vertical axis on this line chart displays a numeric amount, whereas you can use the horizontal axis to represent many different factors.

These charts are not very colorful,and you cannot use a lot of icons or markers to display varying data. However, it is still clearly visible how the trend changes over a continuous period of time in a single variable data system.

These charts are used to explain the changing trends over a continuous period as well. Line charts are an efficient way to plot your progress over a period of time. Doing this helps you identify a trend and a rise or fall in sales or business. With this information, you can plan ahead and stop the company from going south.

A dual axis line chart can also be useful in plotting data between two y-axes and a shared x-axis. You can plot this type of chart with three data sets, though one of these data sets is based on a continuous set of data.

Scatter Plot

You might have heard of scatter plots before, but strictly in a scientific environment. While scatter plots are mostly for visualizing signal data, you can also use them for other purposes.

A scatter plot visualizes the relationship between two different variables on two different axes. This type of chart helps determine whether a relationship exists between the two different variables.

You can also use a scatter plot to determine the correlation between two variables or the absence thereof. If the data form a band from the lower left to the upper right, then a positive correlation exists. Otherwise, it does not.

Heat Map

Another chart used in data visualization is the heat map. The heat map visualizes the relationship between two different variables and assigns rating information such as excellent, average, or poor.

Usually, the display illustrates these ratings through varying colors or some form of saturation. The simplestform of a heat map provides a quick summary of the information available. Nevertheless, more complex heat maps also exist and allow the audience to understand and visualize more complex data sets.

While heat maps may vary from data set to data set, they all share the same attribute: they use color to show relationships.

Spider Charts

Financial managers and Human Resource Managers use the spider charts to display multiple data groups in the form of a 2D diagram; this is usually through at leastthree variables on the axes.

Most often, HR managers use them to display the command over a skill a specificindividualpossesses. The peak on each axis allows the audience to see how skilled a person is in a particular area.

Creating a spider chart is a much easier task than showing this kind of information in terms of a heat map or just plain numerical data.

Wrap Up

Charts provide a convenient way to display information in a readable and interactive format visually. The different types of charts you can choose from have their own set of benefits and can be customized based on the needs of the individual or company.

Commonly Used Charts and Their Purposes

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