How to Choose the Right Chart to Visualize Your Data

Different chart types highlight different data relationships. The chart type you choose will impact the way you (and others) understand your data. Use this tool to explore the different data relationships you can show, and which chart types highlight them most effectively.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Table

A table is a set of data systematically displayed in rows and columns.

Pro-Tip: Tables should be used when you need to be able to look up and compare individual values.

Line

Best at: Trend

A line graph displays information as a series of data points connected by straight lines.

Pro-Tip: Add points to emphasize individual values.

Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation & Trend

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Bar

Best at: Nominal

On a bar chart, numerical values are represented by horizontal bars and compared by length.

Pro-Tip: Sort in descending order to emphasize high values, or ascending order to emphasize low values.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Area

Best at: Comparison

An area chart is a line chart with the area below the line filled with color. Often, several area charts are mapped together for comparison.

Pro-Tip: When comparing multiple areas with intersecting lines, use semi-transparent colors so no data gets hidden behind another set.

Bar/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

A bar/line combo combines a bar graph with a line graph to display a trend or compare multiple data sets. It is horizontally oriented.

Stacked Bar

Best at: Comparison & Composition

A stacked bar chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each bar represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented horizontally.

Bullet

Best at: Comparison

A bullet graph is a variation of a bar graph that measures values on a qualitative range.

Radar

Best at: Comparison

A radar chart displays multivariate data on multiple axes starting from the same point.

Gauge

Best at: Progress

Gauge charts use needles to show change in a single value on a dial.

Pareto

Best at: Composition & Single Distribution

The Pareto chart, named after Vilfredo Pareto, contains columns and a line where columns are presented in descending order and the line shows the cumulative total.

Donut

Best at: Composition

Like a pie chart, a donut chart shows the relationship of parts to a whole.

Funnel

Best at: Progress

Funnel charts represent stages in a sales, marketing, or other “funnel” process.

Map

Best at: Location

A map chart displays geolocational data.

Pie

Best at: Composition

A pie chart is a circle divided into sections that each represent a portion of the whole.

Pro-Tip: Stick to fewer than five categories (if necessary, lump smaller categories together as “Other”).

Single Value

Best at: Deviation (if shown with indicator)

A single value is a number without further visualization or context. It can be accompanied by a red or green shape to indicate negative or positive change.

Bubble Chart

Best at: Multiple Distribution

Bubble charts, a variation of scatter plots, are used to display data points with three numerical dimensions. These dimensions are represented by the x-axis, y-axis, and area of the bubble.

Comparison

Compare two or more sets of data to see their differences and similarities.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Bar

Best at: Nominal

On a bar chart, numerical values are represented by horizontal bars and compared by length.

Pro-Tip: Sort in descending order to emphasize high values, or ascending order to emphasize low values.

Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation & Trend

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Line

Best at: Trend

A line graph displays information as a series of data points connected by straight lines.

Pro-Tip: Add points to emphasize individual values.

Table

A table is a set of data systematically displayed in rows and columns.

Pro-Tip: Tables should be used when you need to be able to look up and compare individual values.

Area

Best at: Comparison

An area chart is a line chart with the area below the line filled with color. Often, several area charts are mapped together for comparison.

Pro-Tip: When comparing multiple areas with intersecting lines, use semi-transparent colors so no data gets hidden behind another set.

Bar/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

A bar/line combo combines a bar graph with a line graph to display a trend or compare multiple data sets. It is horizontally oriented.

Stacked Bar

Best at: Comparison & Composition

A stacked bar chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each bar represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented horizontally.

Bullet

Best at: Comparison

A bullet graph is a variation of a bar graph that measures values on a qualitative range.

Radar

Best at: Comparison

A radar chart displays multivariate data on multiple axes starting from the same point.

Bubble Chart

Best at: Multiple Distribution

Bubble charts, a variation of scatter plots, are used to display data points with three numerical dimensions. These dimensions are represented by the x-axis, y-axis, and area of the bubble.

Location

Show geographic information for data.

Map

Best at: Location

A map chart displays geolocational data.

Composition

See how parts are divided and relate to the whole.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Bar

Best at: Nominal

On a bar chart, numerical values are represented by horizontal bars and compared by length.

Pro-Tip: Sort in descending order to emphasize high values, or ascending order to emphasize low values.

Table

A table is a set of data systematically displayed in rows and columns.

Pro-Tip: Tables should be used when you need to be able to look up and compare individual values.

Area

Best at: Comparison

An area chart is a line chart with the area below the line filled with color. Often, several area charts are mapped together for comparison.

Pro-Tip: When comparing multiple areas with intersecting lines, use semi-transparent colors so no data gets hidden behind another set.

Stacked Bar

Best at: Comparison & Composition

A stacked bar chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each bar represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented horizontally.

Radar

Best at: Comparison

A radar chart displays multivariate data on multiple axes starting from the same point.

Gauge

Best at: Progress

Gauge charts use needles to show change in a single value on a dial.

Pareto

Best at: Composition & Single Distribution

The Pareto chart, named after Vilfredo Pareto, contains columns and a line where columns are presented in descending order and the line shows the cumulative total.

Donut

Best at: Composition

Like a pie chart, a donut chart shows the relationship of parts to a whole.

Pie

Best at: Composition

A pie chart is a circle divided into sections that each represent a portion of the whole.

Pro-Tip: Stick to fewer than five categories (if necessary, lump smaller categories together as “Other”).

Trend

Demonstrate the overall pattern of a data set.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation & Trend

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Line

Best at: Trend

A line graph displays information as a series of data points connected by straight lines.

Pro-Tip: Add points to emphasize individual values.

Area

Best at: Comparison

An area chart is a line chart with the area below the line filled with color. Often, several area charts are mapped together for comparison.

Pro-Tip: When comparing multiple areas with intersecting lines, use semi-transparent colors so no data gets hidden behind another set.

Bubble Chart

Best at: Multiple Distribution

Bubble charts, a variation of scatter plots, are used to display data points with three numerical dimensions. These dimensions are represented by the x-axis, y-axis, and area of the bubble.

Single Distribution

Compare data over evenly distributed periods or categories.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Bar

Best at: Nominal

On a bar chart, numerical values are represented by horizontal bars and compared by length.

Pro-Tip: Sort in descending order to emphasize high values, or ascending order to emphasize low values.

Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation & Trend

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Line

Best at: Trend

A line graph displays information as a series of data points connected by straight lines.

Pro-Tip: Add points to emphasize individual values.

Bar/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

A bar/line combo combines a bar graph with a line graph to display a trend or compare multiple data sets. It is horizontally oriented.

Pareto

Best at: Composition & Single Distribution

The Pareto chart, named after Vilfredo Pareto, contains columns and a line where columns are presented in descending order and the line shows the cumulative total.

Multiple Distribution

Compare data sets over multiple periods or categories.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Bar

Best at: Nominal

On a bar chart, numerical values are represented by horizontal bars and compared by length.

Pro-Tip: Sort in descending order to emphasize high values, or ascending order to emphasize low values.

Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation & Trend

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Line

Best at: Trend

A line graph displays information as a series of data points connected by straight lines.

Pro-Tip: Add points to emphasize individual values.

Bubble Chart

Best at: Multiple Distribution

Bubble charts, a variation of scatter plots, are used to display data points with three numerical dimensions. These dimensions are represented by the x-axis, y-axis, and area of the bubble.

Correlation

Show the relationship or connection between two data sets.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation & Trend

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Line

Best at: Trend

A line graph displays information as a series of data points connected by straight lines.

Pro-Tip: Add points to emphasize individual values.

Table

A table is a set of data systematically displayed in rows and columns.

Pro-Tip: Tables should be used when you need to be able to look up and compare individual values.

Area

Best at: Comparison

An area chart is a line chart with the area below the line filled with color. Often, several area charts are mapped together for comparison.

Pro-Tip: When comparing multiple areas with intersecting lines, use semi-transparent colors so no data gets hidden behind another set.

Bar/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

A bar/line combo combines a bar graph with a line graph to display a trend or compare multiple data sets. It is horizontally oriented.

Radar

Best at: Comparison

A radar chart displays multivariate data on multiple axes starting from the same point.

Bubble Chart

Best at: Multiple Distribution

Bubble charts, a variation of scatter plots, are used to display data points with three numerical dimensions. These dimensions are represented by the x-axis, y-axis, and area of the bubble.

Nominal

Compare values where there is no order relationship.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Bar

Best at: Nominal

On a bar chart, numerical values are represented by horizontal bars and compared by length.

Pro-Tip: Sort in descending order to emphasize high values, or ascending order to emphasize low values.

Table

A table is a set of data systematically displayed in rows and columns.

Pro-Tip: Tables should be used when you need to be able to look up and compare individual values.

Bar/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

A bar/line combo combines a bar graph with a line graph to display a trend or compare multiple data sets. It is horizontally oriented.

Stacked Bar

Best at: Comparison & Composition

A stacked bar chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each bar represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented horizontally.

Bullet

Best at: Comparison

A bullet graph is a variation of a bar graph that measures values on a qualitative range.

Ranking

Compare one measure to another as well as its quantitative order relationship.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Bar

Best at: Nominal

On a bar chart, numerical values are represented by horizontal bars and compared by length.

Pro-Tip: Sort in descending order to emphasize high values, or ascending order to emphasize low values.

Table

A table is a set of data systematically displayed in rows and columns.

Pro-Tip: Tables should be used when you need to be able to look up and compare individual values.

Bar/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

A bar/line combo combines a bar graph with a line graph to display a trend or compare multiple data sets. It is horizontally oriented.

Stacked Bar

Best at: Comparison & Composition

A stacked bar chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each bar represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented horizontally.

Bullet

Best at: Comparison

A bullet graph is a variation of a bar graph that measures values on a qualitative range.

Time-series

Compare measurements taken over equal time periods.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation & Trend

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Line

Best at: Trend

A line graph displays information as a series of data points connected by straight lines.

Pro-Tip: Add points to emphasize individual values.

Table

A table is a set of data systematically displayed in rows and columns.

Pro-Tip: Tables should be used when you need to be able to look up and compare individual values.

Area

Best at: Comparison

An area chart is a line chart with the area below the line filled with color. Often, several area charts are mapped together for comparison.

Pro-Tip: When comparing multiple areas with intersecting lines, use semi-transparent colors so no data gets hidden behind another set.

Bubble Chart

Best at: Multiple Distribution

Bubble charts, a variation of scatter plots, are used to display data points with three numerical dimensions. These dimensions are represented by the x-axis, y-axis, and area of the bubble.

Deviation

Measure the difference between a measure and a reference measure.

Stacked Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation

Similar to a column/line combo, a stacked column/line combo overlays a line graph on a stacked column graph.

Column

Best at: Almost everything

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Pro-Tip: This is the best chart to use to visualize negative values below the x-axis. ALWAYS extend y-axis to zero, otherwise your data will be distorted.

Stacked Column

Best at: Comparison & Composition (and especially Composition + Comparison)

A stacked column chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each column represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented vertically.

Stacked Column 100%

Best at: Composition (when percentage distribution of subcategories is the primary message)

Similar to a stacked column chart, but each column segment represents a percentage of the whole, rather than the actual value.

Bar

Best at: Nominal

On a bar chart, numerical values are represented by horizontal bars and compared by length.

Pro-Tip: Sort in descending order to emphasize high values, or ascending order to emphasize low values.

Column/Line Combo

Best at: Correlation & Trend

In a column chart, numerical values are represented by the height of vertical bars.

Line

Best at: Trend

A line graph displays information as a series of data points connected by straight lines.

Pro-Tip: Add points to emphasize individual values.

Stacked Bar

Best at: Comparison & Composition

A stacked bar chart breaks down and compares parts of a whole. Each bar represents the whole, and segments represent different categories or parts of the whole. It is oriented horizontally.

Single Value

Best at: Deviation (if shown with indicator)

A single value is a number without further visualization or context. It can be accompanied by a red or green shape to indicate negative or positive change.

Progress

Follow the progress through a path, system, or process.

Bullet

Best at: Comparison

A bullet graph is a variation of a bar graph that measures values on a qualitative range.

Gauge

Best at: Progress

Gauge charts use needles to show change in a single value on a dial.

Funnel

Best at: Progress

Funnel charts represent stages in a sales, marketing, or other “funnel” process.