How to choose the right chart for your data

January 25th, 2009

There are lots of good systems, including excel and other spreadsheet tools, that can visualize your data in various kinds of graphs. it can sometimes by a little daunting, however, to figure out which kind of chart to use. The version of excel running on my laptop, for example, asks me to choose from more than 70 kinds of charts. Of course, many of the variations are obviously stylistic — 2D vs 3D bar charts — but there are still a lot of options.

A link to a great data visualization cheat sheet on How to choose a chart is doing well on Hacker News today. The graphic was created by Andrew Abela and posted on his blog in Choosing a good chart over three years ago.

“Here’s something we came up with to help you consider which chart to use. It was inspired by the table in Gene Zelazny’s classic work Saying It With Charts (p. 27 in the 4th. ed)”

How to choose the right chart for your data

Abela developed this aid as part of his Extreme Presentation method for “designing presentations that drive action”. Viewing his Extreme Presentation blog you can find versions of this chart aide that have been translated into other languages